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Ragging as an expression of power in a deeply divided society; a qualitative study on students perceptions on the phenomenon of ragging at a Sri Lankan university

Published onJul 14, 2022
Ragging as an expression of power in a deeply divided society; a qualitative study on students perceptions on the phenomenon of ragging at a Sri Lankan university
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Ragging as an expression of power in a deeply divided society; a qualitative study on students perceptions on the phenomenon of ragging at a Sri Lankan university
Description

Initiation rituals such as hazing, bullying, and ragging, as it is referred to in Sri Lanka, is a global phenomenon and has become a serious public health problem. Students are bullied and harassed by senior students causing them to suffer severe adverse consequences including depression, increased university dropouts and suicide. Although this has led to a significant burden on the country, research on ragging is scarce. The aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of students concerning the phenomenon of ragging and to understand how ragging affects student life and culture at the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. This paper is based on 17 focus group discussions with male and female students of Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim ethnicity. Thematic analysis was employed to navigate through the theoretical lenses of structural violence, intersectionality, and social dominance. The findings revealed how students perceived ragging differently; as an expression of power to initiate order and as a way to express dissatisfaction towards social inequalities occurring within the larger society or to facilitate bonds between university students. Students trivialized violence related to ragging and accepted it as a part of the university subculture despite being aware of the dire consequences. There was a described cyclical nature to ragging whereby victims become perpetrators. The student’s perspective appeared to be a missed opportunity in finding feasible solutions to a societal problem that must take all parties involved, into consideration.

 

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