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Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society, Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass

Reviewed by Shamira Gelbman



Bullying has become a cause cèlèbre in the contemporary United States. Egregious instances of bullying and its often devastating effects are a mainstay of news headlines, and numerous public figures—from athletes and musical artists to first lady hopefuls—have stepped up as celebrity spokespersons for a burgeoning anti-bullying movement. Every U.S. state has enacted anti-bullying legislation in the last decade, and a series of bills to improve anti-bullying measures in public schools, colleges, and universities nationwide have been considered in recent sessions of Congress.

Although bullying is seemingly on the rise, Bully Nation authors Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass posit that it is, and has long been, endemic to American politics and society. Theirs is a decidedly sociological argument. In contrast to prevailing psychological explanations, which conceive of bullying as an aberrant individual behavior driven by personal nature and circumstances, Derber and Magrass contend that it is in fact an outgrowth of a system of political, economic, and other societal institutions that promote and reinforce the tendency to exploit power differentials through repeated acts of harassment and intimidation. They emphasize further that bullying is not merely a childhood activity, as commonly understood, but one that infects relationship

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