How positive thinking can reinforce bullying

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPaperResearch


The paper is focusing on a case of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) conversations used in a 3th grade, where a well-meaning consultant tries to combat ongoing bullying. The analysis take a close look at a “circle game” where the children have to give each other compliments and criticism (the criticism is translated and delivered as "presents"). The analysis of the case shows how the method is appropriated by the children to continue the bullying, but in ways that are adjusted to the dominant principles - from AI – that the circle-game is led by. The paper proposes that the AI conversations, rather than reducing bullying patterns, seem to potentially strengthen them. One of the important insights is thus that group conversations contain the potential to serve as a paradoxical force which exacerbates instead of improves the social conditions of the children involved.

In order to avoid doing more harm through the use of wellmeaning methods, we need to strengthen our analytical gaze on the more hidden micropolitics and negotiations taking place among the children during group meetings that are meant to reduce or stop bullying.
Translated title of the contributionHvordan positiv tænkning kan forstærke mobbemønstre
Original languageEnglish
Publication date3 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2021
EventWABF 2021: World Anti Bullying Forum 2021 - Stockholm Waterfront Congress Center, Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 1 Nov 20213 Nov 2021


ConferenceWABF 2021
LocationStockholm Waterfront Congress Center
Internet address


  • bullying
  • schools, courses and institutions
  • learning, educational science and teaching
  • socially endangered children

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