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Popularity is a nebulous concept that, for young people, is more related to wielding social status than to being consensually well-liked. To accrue and maintain high social status, certain traits and behaviours are necessary. Although these have localised idiosyncrasies in micro behaviours and dress, they also broadly reflect societal-level ideals of heteronormative gender roles and relationships. When considering how peer popularity is constructed, it is essential to understand the gendered dynamics that underpin it.

‘Heteronomativity’ refers to an institutionalised desire for heterosexuality to be compulsory and the attempts to maintain this order. In some ways, peer popularity in schools can be seen as a mechanism for enforcing heteronormativity. It serves to regulate by sanctioning or marginalizing those outside, particularly LGBTQ populations, or those with more neutral ...

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