'School violence' as a social problem: Charting the rise of the problem and the emerging specialist field

  • Brown J
  • Munn P
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07 Original Article 2008 18 3/4 Dr JaneBrown Taylor & Francis International Studies in Sociology of Education 0962-0214 (print)/1747-5066 (online) 000000September-December 2008 Jane.Brown@education.ed.ac.uk In the past 10 years, violence taking place in schools has entered both popular and academic discourse. Frequently, the term ‘school violence’ is used as a catch-all concept to refer to disorder and disruption in schools, as well as the unruliness of contemporary youth. This is apparent not only in the North American context, but in highly politicised debates regarding standards of pupil behaviour in countries across Europe. A related and significant development is the emergence of the study of violence in schools as a specialist area of enquiry. Drawing on sociological theories of the emergence of social problems, and social constructionist approaches in particular, this paper addresses the rising concern with ‘school violence’ as a social phenomenon. First it addresses the rise of the problem, emphasising connections with wider agendas, particularly anxieties about dangerous youth. The role of the media and academics is also considered. Moreover, this paper explores the emergence of the specialist field and related debates about meaning. It is argued that the present disquiet about ‘school violence’ requires to be understood in the context of modernity and accompanying concerns about social cohesion.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 'School violence'
  • Dangerous youth
  • New field
  • Social problems

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  • Jane Brown

  • Pamela Munn

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