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Measuring Victimhood: Developing a Victim Self-Ascription Scale
Unformatted Document Text:  DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ## It is as yet uncommon to study the state of victimhood, though the work of symbolic interactionists Leisenring (2006) and Dunn (2001) provide notable exceptions. Between them, these scholars have provided illuminating insights into the ways in which individuals adopt or reject victim status, and the limitations imposed on their ability to do so by other actors. They have improved our understanding of the ways that the word 'victim' is used in public and private discourse, and have explored some of the complexities involved in individual and social decisions to apply the status. This paper also addresses the question of the nature of feelings of victimhood, but with the purpose of discovering some of their structural characteristics. That is to say, it investigates what perceptions are associated with outcomes associated with victimhood within individuals. Reviewing the largely speculative theoretical work on the subject, the paper explores the suggestion that victimhood should be associated with the perception that the experience in question was harmful, externally perpetrated and unjust, and that this perception should in turn be associated with certain specific outcomes. The paper adopts a broadly psychometric approach, employing survey methods and developing measurement instruments, to examine some of the relationships suggested in existing literature. In doing so it is hoped that it will contribute a clearer understanding of the psychological nature of the phenomenon referred to as victimhood, and by implication the nature of the object of victimological study. One final note regarding style: although a paper on the perception of victimization, no effective way to discuss victimizing events distinct from the perception of those events presently exists in the English language. As a result, I frequently refer to unpleasant events in what follows as ‘victimizations’. I do this simply as a short-hand for the potentially-victimizing, presumptively-unpleasant events of the type Page 3

Authors: Davies, Andrew.
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DRAFT – For permission to cite contact Andy Davies on ## email not listed ##
It is as yet uncommon to study the state of victimhood, though the work of symbolic interactionists 
Leisenring (2006) and Dunn (2001) provide notable exceptions.  Between them, these scholars have 
provided illuminating insights into the ways in which individuals adopt or reject victim status, and the 
limitations imposed on their ability to do so by other actors.  They have improved our understanding of 
the ways that the word 'victim' is used in public and private discourse, and have explored some of the 
complexities involved in individual and social decisions to apply the status.
This paper also addresses the question of the nature of feelings of victimhood, but with the purpose of 
discovering some of their structural characteristics.  That is to say, it investigates what perceptions are 
associated with outcomes associated with victimhood within individuals.  Reviewing the largely 
speculative theoretical work on the subject, the paper explores the suggestion that victimhood should 
be associated with the perception that the experience in question was harmful, externally perpetrated 
and unjust, and that this perception should in turn be associated with certain specific outcomes.  The 
paper adopts a broadly psychometric approach, employing survey methods and developing 
measurement instruments, to examine some of the relationships suggested in existing literature.  In 
doing so it is hoped that it will contribute a clearer understanding of the psychological nature of the 
phenomenon referred to as victimhood, and by implication the nature of the object of victimological 
One final note regarding style: although a paper on the perception of victimization, no effective way to 
discuss victimizing events distinct from the perception of those events presently exists in the English 
language.  As a result, I frequently refer to unpleasant events in what follows as ‘victimizations’.  I do 
this simply as a short-hand for the potentially-victimizing, presumptively-unpleasant events of the type 
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