Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Cashel, Mary


The purpose of this qualitative inquiry was to examine retrospective experiences of bullying among a diverse sample of ethnic minority and lesbian, gay, and bisexual college students. This study examined the language that college students used to describe forms of peer aggression that they may have experienced or observed during their elementary, middle school, or high school years. The ways in which they made meaning of their experiences of peer aggression and interpreted effects of such experiences were assessed. The specific meanings that participants attached to the term `bullying' were also explored. This study attended to the influence of multicultural group memberships on language usage and meaning-making of peer aggression. Finally, this inquiry included an exploration of the impact of stigma upon assuming or avoiding personal identification as a victim of peer aggression. This qualitative investigation employed individual interviewing with college students in order to explore the primary research questions and utilized constructivist grounded theory methods and analysis. According to the results, issues of cultural identity and cultural context emerged as strong themes in this investigation. Peer aggression experienced by culturally diverse individuals often involved identity-specific peer interactions which occurred within or emerged out of cultural context. The implications of these results are that attending to culture and context may be crucial to gaining an understanding of the social worlds of minority-identified people and to developing more culturally relevant research and practice. The findings also support calls for continued research on the role of culture in the nature of and meanings associated with bullying. Moreover, the results indicated that the participants tended to minimize experiences and outcomes of bullying and to distance themselves from stigmatized victim identities. These factors may undermine constructions of bullying as a social problem and thus warrant further attention by claims-makers interested in drawing attention to this issue.




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