ERIC Number: ED224069
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Gossip as a Communication Construct.
Although an important communication process, gossip rarely has been seriously studied. Distinct from rumor and self-disclosure, it can be defined as the communication process whereby information about another person's affairs or activities is disclosed and circulated in an exclusive manner in dyads. Some "functionalists" assert that gossip maintains social boundaries between in-group members and outsiders and reaffirms the norms and values of a particular communication network, while others claim gossip is a way to obtain information about another person and functions as a manipulative strategy to forward one's self-interest. "Transactionalists" propose it is used for impression management and for social comparison. The social exchange theory posits three functions of gossip,"informative,""moralizing," and "entertainment." Four rules can be advanced concerning the context, content, procedure, and structure of gossip in terms of the gossipers (A and B) and the "gossipee" (C): (1) when A and B gossip about C, C is not to be within listening distance; (2) what A shares with B about C is not public knowledge; (3) gossip is an entirely voluntary process; and (4) A and B are closer to each other than either is to C. Given these rules, it can be seen that gossip, or the art of "self-disclosure," seems to closely parallel self-disclosing communication. (JL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Los Angeles, CA, February 17-21, 1979).