Bullying, Social Power and Heteronormativity: Girls’ Constructions of Popularity


Neil Duncan, WE114, Gorway Campus, University of Wolverhampton, Walsall, WS1 3BD, United Kingdom, Tel.: 07971 558616; Fax: 01902 323230. E-mail: n.duncan@wlv.ac.uk


Literature on girls’ popularity posits a strong association between popularity, social power and bullying behaviours, some of which conflate the concepts ‘bully’ and ‘popular’. This study explores that association through links to concepts of popularity among girls in two demographically different high schools. Data are presented that were derived from the application of Q methodology to the problem of comparing girls’ attributions of popularity. Twenty-eight girls sorted items relating to attributes of popular girls. Despite the profound differences between the schools, all loaded heavily on one single factor: attractiveness to boys. The findings and the process have relevance for developing anti-bullying work in classrooms.