Social Death: Understanding the Consequences of Ostracism

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Organizational Ostracism and Social Death
  • Method
  • Design
    Methodological Background
    Method of Data Collection
  • Procedure
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Analytic Strategy
  • Reflexivity
  • Business Case
  • References


Ostracism or social death, 'the judgment of the potsherds': Athenian juridical practice in which a potentially dangerous person would be exiled from the city without loss of property or civil rights. (Forsdyke) In modern times it can be seen as the exclusion from common privileges or social acceptance by members of a group or community in which one is apart. Randall Collins (2008), one of the leading sociologists of our time, described school as 'an approximation of a full institution,' where life is marked by frequent interactions with others, repeated interactions with the same people, the need to engage in these interactions, and teachers ' subjugation. This structure has a significant impact on the status hierarchy in the institution, which is characterized, among other things, by the fact that 'those at the bottom are reprehensible to an extent that is disproportionate to their structural location' and 'seen as not only lowly but degraded. They are thus ignored and often abused or victimized.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

Ostracism - being ignored, excluded and rejected by others - can occur in the family, workplace, school, religious groups, organizations and elsewhere. Although it is commonplace to acknowledge that experiences of social rejection are painful, recent neurological studies suggest that the detection of social death activates the same region as physical pain. In one neuroimaging study, scans were obtained from participants while being excluded in a virtual ball-tossing game. The scans showed that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a region also responsive during physical pain, was more active during exclusion than during inclusion and was found to be directly associated with the level of self-reported distress (Yaakobi). Reports of physical and social distress affecting mutual circuitry do not mean that these experiences are synonymous. We know this from experience, as we can easily distinguish between a stubbed toe's discomfort and a social snub's. Although individuals may relieve the pain of social rejection or deception, for example, they are less able to relive the pain of physical violence or injury. The parallels between felt and perceived pain, however, deserve more attention in order to better understand how their neurological and neural substrates converge.

Organizational Ostracism and Social Death

In Israel, the lowest rung in the social hierarchy in schools are pupils experiencing a ḥerem,1 those who are ostracized. Anyone who grew up in the education system remembers school ostracism because the immense suffering caused to ostracized children leaves an indelible mark on them (Williams, 2007; 2009). This study seeks to offer current descriptive statistics of social death in Israel and to interpret these data within the context of studies in Israel and abroad. (Shavit) Some research in the classroom that concentrates on survivors uses the word ' harassment. ' In order for an activity to be deemed bullying, it must have three characteristics: (1) deliberate violence; (2) repetition; (3) unequal power structures between the aggressor and the victim (Hymel and Swearer, 2015; Olweus, 2013). Bullying studies differentiate between four forms of bullying: physical bullying, oral bullying, social/relative bullying, and cyberbullying (Hymel and Swearer, 2015). Relational bullying is characterized as acts of spreading false rumors, gossip, alienation, and social exclusion.

Being rejected, excluded, or simply ignored is a painful experience. Ostracism researchers have shown its powerful negative consequences (Williams, 2007), and sociologists have referred to such experiences as social death (Bauman, 1992). Is this is just a metaphor or does being ostracized make death more salient in people's minds? An experiment was conducted in which participants experienced social death or inclusion using the Cyberball manipulation, and the accessibility of death-related thoughts was measured via a word-stem completion puzzle (Caroline Steele). The results showed increased accessibility of death-thoughts in the state of ostracism, as well as a negative effect of dispositional self-esteem on the accessibility of death-related thoughts.

Organizational ostracism is defined as a violation of norms that we are suggested to acknowledge at the workplace. It results in the exclusion of one person or multiple persons and causes damage to our innate need to belong. This kind of behaviorism can be engaged through a hierarchical or nonhierarchical relationship. Three elements interact in the framework of organizational ostracism: the actor, the target, and the institution. (Mona Mlika) In most situations, the ostracism perpetrator engaged in ostracism with other people with no real purpose. In 82.9% of cases, the ostracism actor had a history of problematic labor relations. 58.5 percent of the participants considered that social death was intended to cause harm and to isolate them. In 58.5 percent of cases, professional isolation was observed; 51.2 percent of cases were identified to develop their capacity for work and describe their response with an inherent incentive. In most situations, the culture of the company has been found to be negative.

We examined 120 Cyberball studies (N = 11,869) to determine the effect size of ostracism and conditions under which the effect may be reversed, eliminated, or small. Our analyses showed that (1) the average ostracism effect is large (d > |1.4|) and (2) generalizes across structural aspects (number of players, ostracism duration, number of tosses, type of needs scale), sampling aspects (gender, age, country), and types of dependent measure (interpersonal, intrapersonal, fundamental needs). (Hartgerink CHJ) The Williams (2009) test was based on the suggestion that the immediate impact of ostracism is resistant to moderation, but that moderation is more likely to be observed in delayed measures. Our findings suggest that both the first and the last measures are susceptible to moderation and time passed since the social death does not predict the size of the last measure. Support for this, therefore, the idea is tenuous and we propose changes to the time-consuming need-threatening ostracism model.

The aim of the research: Is to gain a greater understanding of the occurrence of ostracism among students. The research question of this study will be as follows:

  • How prevalent is social death among students
  • How do students who have been ostracized feel
  • Further questions that may be considered will include:
  • What practice is in place to maintain the wellbeing of students ostracized by their peers, and what steps can be taken to reduce the occurrence of ostracization?



This study will be conducted using a qualitative design; therefore, more in-depth results due to broader questions. This allows us to collect more descriptive and detailed data as it encourages participants to answer questions in sufficient detail as they are not restricted to quantitative style questionnaires. This would help us have a better understanding of why participants feel the way they do regarding the research questions.


The study sample will consist of 20 participant samples, all of which being at various levels and departments. Stratified Sampling technique will be used to ensure representation from all the subgroups. Stratified sampling improves the accuracy and representativeness of the results by reducing sampling bias (Shantikumar).In order to qualify for the study, students will be expected to be adults (aged 21 and older). English-speaking students who have no self-disclosed psychiatric disorder or currently diagnosed and who are interested in participating in the survey study, able to read and understand the study materials and attend weekly classes, and willing to complete an informed consent process and study data collection forms. Individuals were excluded if they had previously participated in a similar study, regularly practiced mindfulness meditation, expressed uncertainty about attending regularly, or intended to relocate within the next six months.

Methodological Background

A thematic analysis will be used as it is the most appropriate method due to its flexibility as subjects can be explored as it is an inductive approach rather than based on a theory. It is also very flexible in terms of coding and analyzing data that is collected in the study (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The theme of the study will be identified at the semantic level; hence will be the focus on the analysis of data collected from participants. This is a very detailed and specific approach that will include the six phases, which are defined by Braun and Clarke. Thus, it may be easier to use in this research.

Method of Data Collection

Questionnaires have many uses, most notably to discover what the masses are thinking. These include market research, political polling, customer service feedback, evaluations, opinion polls, and social science research (O’Leary). Data collection will be done via self-report survey questionnaires administered to the students at multiple points across the duration of the study. To control for random effects and increase consistency across the groups of students selected, all groups were assessed within the same time frame. Measurements were administered to participants by the principal investigator. The program used for this study was based on.


Bell starts by reminding the researcher to obtain approval prior to administering their questionnaire (Bell). Before the start of the survey, each participant will be briefed about the research, highlighting the research questions and purpose of the study. The participant will further be made aware of ethical guidelines and will be asked to read and sign a consent form to confirm that they are willing to take part in the research. Once consent has been given, the questionnaires will be distributed and the data collection will start. The participants will be asked if they are certified with their answers and thanked for their participation. Each survey is expected to take between 30minutes to 45minutes.

Ethical Considerations

The research will follow the British Psychological Society guidelines (Francis, 2010). This will be done effectively by ensuring all participants understand the purpose of the study, signing a consent form, and are debriefed at the end of the survey. In case the study harms individuals while the survey is conducted, the process will be halted, and participants will be given time to make a decision whether they want to continue or stop there. However, all participants will be made aware that they can withdraw at any point in time if they no longer wish to be part of the research. The questionnaires will be destroyed once analyzed, and all data will be securely kept in a password-protected file and destroyed once the study is complete.

Analytic Strategy

A thematic analysis will be used as proposed by Braun and Clarke. This includes six phases, which aim to ensure we become familiar with the data by going over the data until it thoroughly understood. The data will then be coded to similar group ideas together. These groups will further be divided into relevant themes. Next, the topics will be analyzed, and a 'thematic map' will be made to show the process. Clear definitions will then be added, and finally, the report will be demonstrating the findings.


It may be essential to note the significance of the well-being of ostracized students, and as the researcher, how it may have been overlooked should be observed and studied. Thus, the researcher's position will be raising awareness of the well-being of the ostracized student population and what can be done to help and support them.

Business Case

This research will be beneficial to students; it will allow for a more significant consideration of their needs and perceptions they have about their study environment. Understanding these factors will show the importance of their happiness and the effect it can have on educational achievements. From the research, we can develop a better understanding of their needs and what can be improved to create a better school environment as well as a lower student dropout rate. It will approximately take 30 hours in total to conduct surveys. It will take an additional 200 hours to transcribe and analyze the data. The Final report production will take 60 hours. Thus, a total of 290 hours will be spent on this research. The hourly rate for this research is £250. Based on the hourly rate multiplied by the total hours of the study as well as the cost of the audio recorder, the total cost of this research is £72,669.


  1. Bell, J., Waters, S., & Ebooks Corporation. 'Doing your research project: A guide for first-time researchers (Sixth ed.).' Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press. (2014). web.
  2. Caroline Steele, David C. Kidd &Emanuele Castano. 'On Social Death: Ostracism and the Accessibility of Death Thoughts.' Death Studies (2013): 19-23. web.
  3. Forsdyke, Sara. 'Exile, Ostracism, and Democracy: The Politics of Exclusion in Ancient Greece.' 2005. 11 November 2019.
  4. Hartgerink CHJ, van Beest I, Wicherts JM, Williams KD. ' The Ordinal Effects of Ostracism: A Meta-Analysis of 120 Cyberball Studies.' Pone (2015).
  5. Mona Mlika, Mehdi BenKhelil, Nidhal HajSalem. 'Organizational Ostracism: A Potential Framework in Order to Deal with It.' December 2017. Science Direct. 11 November 2019.
  6. O’Leary, Z. 'The essential guide to doing your research project (2nd ed.).' London: SAGE. (2014). web.
  7. Shantikumar, Saran. 'Methods of sampling from a population.' 2018. Health Knowledge. 10 November 2019.
  8. Shavit, Eran Hakim and Yossi. Social Ostracism Among Pupils. Jerusalem: Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, 2017. Web.
  9. Yaakobi, Erez. 'Ostracism: Recent Neurological, Cognitive and Personality Research.' Journal of Cognitive Neuropsychology (2017). web.
  10. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101.
  11. Francis, R. D. (2010). Ethics for psychologists. John Wiley & Sons.
  12. Grawitch, M. J., Gottschalk, M., & Munz, D. C. (2006). The path to a healthy workplace: A critical review linking healthy workplace practices, employee well-being, and organizational improvements. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 58(3), 129.
  13. Schmidt, C. (2004). The analysis of semi-structured interviews. A companion to qualitative research, 253-258.

Get quality help now

Prof Saney

Verified writer

Proficient in: Individual and Society, Psychiatry & Mental Health

4.9 (316 reviews)
“He was able to complete the assignment following all directions in an elaborate manner in a short period of time. ”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Social Death Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.