Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Scott Davies




Based on empirical interview evidence and data published by the Ontario Ministry of Education, this thesis uses Institutional Theory, and notions of the Therapeutic Culture to examine how and why bullying is addressed within schools. This research analyzes the claims produced and disseminated through the Ministry of Education's written policies and procedures, and the actual responses and views of school administrators. Two data sources are used: documents from the Ontario Ministry of Education, and twenty-two interviews with principals, teachers, and other key players within schools in Hamilton, Ontario. Interviews suggest that the Ministry, as well as the boards and individual schools, actively construct myths regarding anti-violence, and loosely couple their practices with their policies in ways that placate members of their institutional environment and allow them to retain organizational legitimacy. These results support Institutional Theory, suggesting that these anti-violence policies and procedures are ceremonial, serving as "band-aid" solutions, rather than resolving the problems of bullying and violence within schools. Furthermore, they demonstrate the impact of the Therapeutic Culture as the new cultural frame that schools utilize as a means of gaining and retaining legitimacy within their institutional environment.

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