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Rethinking Bystander Non-lntervention: social categorisation and the evidence of witnesses at the James Bulger murder trial.

Levine, R. Mark (1999) Rethinking Bystander Non-lntervention: social categorisation and the evidence of witnesses at the James Bulger murder trial. Human Relations, 52 (9). pp. 1133-1155. ISSN 1741-282X

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Abstract

Bystander apathy is a long established phenomenon in social psychology which has yet to be translated into practical strategies for increasing bystander intervention. This paper argues that the traditional paradigm is hampered by a focus on the physical co-presence of others rather than an analysis of the social meanings inherent in (non) intervention. The testimony provided by 38 bystanders at the trial of two ten year old boys for the murder of two and a half year old James Bulger is analysed. It is argued that their failure to intervene can be attributed to the fact that they assumed - or were told - that the three boys were brothers. The way in which this category of ‘ the family’ served to prohibit or deflect intervention is analysed. This approach is contrasted with a traditional bystander apathy account of the bystanders actions in the Bulger case. It is argued that bystander (non) intervention phenomenon should be analysed in terms of the construction of social categories in local contexts.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Human Relations
Additional Information: "The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Human Relations, 52 (9), 1999, © The Tavistock Institute, 1999 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Human Relations page: http://hum.sagepub.com/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://online.sagepub.com/
Uncontrolled Keywords: bystander apathy • James Bulger • murder trial • social categories • the family
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Psychology
ID Code: 10971
Deposited By: Dr Mark Levine
Deposited On: 29 Jul 2008 14:52
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2016 00:00
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/10971

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