Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Academic’s research proves the value of gossip in society

Academic’s research proves the value of gossip in society

Rumour, hearsay, tittle-tattle, scuttlebutt, scandal, dirt-whatever the term-gossip is usually considered a naughty indulgence, but what if it actually contributes to political and social processes?

University of Auckland academic Associate Professor Jennifer Frost has co-edited a book “When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in American History” that details the history of gossip, why gossip matters and how it can actually be useful in society.

“Our aim is to redeem and revalue gossip, pointing out the many positives. Yes, it can be damaging if false but it also can be beneficial and have many positive functions,” Associate Professor Frost says.

Although formerly overlooked or trivialised, gossip is increasingly recognised as an important and influential means of communication. Around two-thirds of our daily conversation focuses on personal and interpersonal matters. If we were to keep a record of our activities during our waking hours, according to anthropologist Max Gluckman, only our time spent in work would exceed our time spent in gossiping.

It has received negative press in the past as trivial, inaccurate, or damaging ‘women’s talk’. But historical studies tell us both men and women participate because gossip provides both guilty private pleasures and fulfills important public functions. In fact, gossip is a powerful discourse precisely because it blurs the imaginary yet influential boundary between what is considered “public” and “private.”

“It's not just women, but men too who gossip. In the end, we want to say gossip is important both for understanding the present and the past.”

It results in shared information and knowledge, allows for discussion and exchange, and contributes to relationships and a sense of community among participants. Gossip can be wielded as “a weapon of the weak” to assail the powerful in society but also by social and political elites to expand or defend their power.

Frost, an academic in the University’s History department in the Faculty of Arts, has in her earlier work examined the career and politics of movie gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, a powerhouse of golden age Hollywood.

The new book uses case studies in the history of American gossip to explore its role in society, culture, and politics, from the colonial Salem witch trials to the era of People magazine and flash-in-the-pan Internet celebrities, making a convincing case that we should reassess this often dismissed variety of social exchange.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Eddie Izzard: UK Comedy Legend Returns

Hailed as one of the foremost stand up comedians of his generation. Star of stage and screen. Tireless supporter of charity. Runner. Political campaigner. Fashion Icon... February 2015, Eddie Izzard will bring his massive FORCE MAJEURE world tour to New Zealand with tickets going on sale at 10am on Tuesday 28th October. More>>

Festival Starts 28 Oct: Improv Fest Makes Up New Show

For any other festival, finding out less than two weeks from showtime that half the cast of a programmed show can’t make it to New Zealand would be a nightmare. Instead, the New Zealand Improv Festival Director Jennifer O’Sullivan saw an opportunity ... More>>

NZ Music Awards Finalists: Lorde, Sol3 Mio Top 2014 Tuis Charge

Lorde has taken the music world by storm during the past year and she co-leads the 2014 Tui charge with five finalist spots. Joining her is newcomer family opera trio, Sol3 Mio. They are followed closely by Ladi6 and David Dallas, both up for four awards each. More>>

From 'Luther' Creator: Major New Zealand Crime Series For BBC

Libertine Pictures and writer Neil Cross have teamed up with leading international TV producer Carnival Films to develop a major new crime series set in Rotorua. Libertine will develop the contemporary drama series with Carnival, producer of internationally-acclaimed British period drama Downton Abbey, for the BBC. More>>

ALSO:

Family Statement: Death Of Ewen Gilmour

“Ewen was a much loved and cherished member of our family, he was a larger than life character and by his very nature was kind, generous and always giving of his time to those who asked for his help." More>>

ALSO:

Auckland: St. Jerome's Laneway Festival - Line-Up Announced

Traversing seven cities and three countries, the festival has well and truly settled into its home in each state. From the grassy knolls and towering silos at home in Auckland, to the sparkling backdrop of the Maribyrnong... More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: No Longer An Island

Simon Nathan reviews 'Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed': The idea that New Zealand is part of a large submerged continent is not new... There was renewed interest in the extent of offshore New Zealand from the 1970s onwards with the start of offshore drilling for oil and gas, and this was given impetus by a UN agreement which allowed countries to claim an Extended Continental Shelf (ECS). More>>

Art: Simon Denny Recreates Kim Dotcom’s Personal Effects

Who owns what? How has the internet changed our relation to the world? These are two of the many questions Simon Denny raises in the latest exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery, opening on Saturday 4 October. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news