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date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Preadolescence is a passage from a normatively asexual childhood to a normatively heterosexual adolescence. This is a collective passage, in which the gender binary is reinscribed in the age cohort as part of a larger construction of a peer-based social order. Same-sex friendship groups merge into male and female constituencies, creating a “popular crowd” aiming to lead their peers into adolescent practices. Central to these practices is the development of a “heterosexual market” in which individuals accrue value as a function of their participation in heterosexual practice and in the vast indexical activity that supports it. Based on ethnographic work in two very different elementary schools in Northern California, this chapter examines the selective adoption of variation tied to sound change in progress as cultural capital in this market. Among other things, it shows that the nature of the market and of the indexical practice is articulated by difference in class and ethnicity across the cohort.

Keywords: heterosexual market, preadolescence, sound change ethnicity, variation

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