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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/25995
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- Adolescents and power: understanding of power, and deconstruction of negative peer interactions
- Ricketts, Jennifer J.
- Contemporary researchers typically classify negative peer interactions as bullying or conflict. Theoretically, bullying involves exploiting a power imbalance to demobilize a peer(s), and conflict involves using power tactics to exert influence or resolve a dispute. This study attempted to explore the exercise of power between adolescent peers within psychological, social psychological and feminist psychological frameworks of power, and bullying and conflict constructions. Three hundred and fifty-two Melbourne students from Years 7 to 10 completed a 'Young People's School Relationships' survey Students described their understandings of personal and interpersonal power, and rated their perceived power. The experimenter asked the students to differentiate three recent difficult incidents with peers according to perceived power disadvantage (less power), balance (same power) and advantage (more power). They described the difficulties, their responses and their perceptions of the power balance. Outcomes were rated on affect, relationship quality and overall evaluation. Power construction, gender, and year group differences on perceived personal power were examined. Scenario type (less, same, more power), gender, year group (7/8, 9/10), and relationship closeness (not friends, friends) differences on difficulties, responses and outcomes were evaluated. The power constructions formed three themes ('power-within', power-with', 'power-over'). Difficulties were subgrouped into three forms (two-way, one-way, other-way) and three types (physical, verbal, social). Responses were categorised into adapting, distancing, dominating and engaging. There was no support for Falbo and Peplau's (1980) two-dimensional model for classifying types of interpersonal responses in power-differentiated situations. Power was constructed most frequently as 'power-within'. Perceived power ratings formed a Global Power Score (GPS), with males reporting higher GPSs. Males and year group 7/8 reported more physical difficulties in the 'same' power, and females and year group 7/8 more social difficulties in the 'less' and 'more' power scenarios. Students reported more adapting responses in the difficult interpersonal situations. Adapting and distancing responses were more frequent in the less power scenario, and dominating and engaging more frequent in the more and less power scenarios respectively. Affect and relationship status outcomes were rated more positively in same power scenario. Outcomes were more positive for difficulties with friends. Students rated their responses more positively when they used engaging strategies, but less positively when they used distancing or dominating. Power theories provided partial explanations for the findings and alternative frameworks to bullying and conflict for understanding negative peer interactions. This study extends on knowledge of adolescents' school-based relationships and proposes a power model for schools.
- Publication type
- Thesis (PhD)
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. School of Social and Behavioural Sciences
- Publication year
- Friendship in adolescence; Interpersonal relations in adolescence; Melbourne; Peer pressure in adolescence; Social interactions in adolescence; Social networks; Teenagers; Victoria
- Australasian Digital Theses collection
- Copyright © 2003 Jennifer J. Ricketts.
- Thesis Supervisor
- [Susan M. Moore]
- Thesis Note
- [Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Swinburne University of Technology, 2003.]
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