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Oputa, Omesham Noelle (2020) Disciplinary Practices, Bullying and the Making Of Boys And Girls: a Qualitative Case Study Research in a Secondary School In Nigeria. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis investigates the construction of gender identities in relation to disciplinary practices and bullying in a secondary school setting in Nigeria. It is a qualitative case-study research set in a state secondary school in North-Central, Nigeria. The main data sources are interviews with government officials, teachers and students, participant observations and student diaries. Subsequent interviews were conducted with students who graduated from the research school two years after the initial fieldwork. This thesis draws on social constructivist theories and conceptualises schools as both institutional agents and settings in the construction of gender identities. The findings of the research revealed a high prevalence of use of corporal punishment and an entrenched system of bullying in the school. It is argued that discipline involving both the use of corporal punishment and repeated inculcation of values is crucial not only in fashioning students’ behaviours towards acceptable gender ideals but also an important resource employed by teachers to re-establish a hierarchical structure of relations hinged on cultural notions of seniority and respect. Empirical data also led to the theorisation of bullying as a system from a contextual institutional and socio-cultural approach to studying bullying. Boys and girls in the research school constructed their identities around bullying in several ways; by engaging in bullying as collective practices of gender within peer groups, hazing rituals and a system of apprenticeship where newcomers- junior boys -school sons take on the positions of apprentices in order to learn and progress towards having their status established within the system of bullying and achieve dominance over other students through required performances of masculinity under the tutorship of senior male bullies- their school fathers. An analysis of existing legal and policy frameworks on corporal punishment and bullying in Nigeria and interviews with government officials indicated that although the 2003 Child Rights Act prohibits the use of corporal punishment in schools in Nigeria, there is currently no framework that addresses the issue of bullying. The 2003 Child Rights Act is also not without implementation issues. A general perception by both teachers and government officials that the provisions in the Act are inconsistent with socio-cultural and religious norms as well as coordination and finance problems are major hindrances to the implementation of this framework in schools in Nigeria.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Colette Harris
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2021 16:56

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