The Secret Traders: A case study investigating adolescent girls and relational aggression and the impacts of popularity and meanness
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
The importance of social status and popularity for the girls is investigated in this study. Given its importance it is not surprising that they resorted to a number of relationally aggressive tactics to maintain their popularity and social position. The girls in this study demonstrate how they emotionally invested in their friendships and in return they expected loyalty, trust and commitment. Friendships were formed through shared interests, proximity and through meeting friends of friends. Friendships became more intimate with the sharing of information, secrets and dreams. Girls in this study entrusted their secrets like jewels to each other, they were a measure of the trust, intimacy and closeness of the friendship. The secrets had a dual purpose – particularly for this age group – where they connected with close friends on a deeper level. The sharing of secrets meant that you were a close confidant of the girl and that they would trust and support each other and would assist in navigating the harsh and tumultuous waters of puberty. However – during this time the emergence of popularity and being a popular girl gained prominence within this study. Popularity was social currency – and was seen as the necessary capital for advancement within a girl’s peer group – the more popular a girl was, the more she was sought after as a friend, and the more powerful she was. Popularity and power was considered social currency with this group of girls, the more popular you were the more desirable she was as a friend, and the more powerful a popular girl’s circle of influence would be.