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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Among the various methodological approaches to gossip, ethnography stands out as the most naturalistic and contextual. From an ethnographic perspective, gossip must be defined from the ground up, an approach that is attentive to local conceptualizations and to cross-social variability, but also one that opens a Pandora’s box of caveats regarding the possibility of arriving at a cross-cultural definition of gossip. Early debates among anthropologists pitched an understanding of gossip as a solidarity-enhancing mechanism against an approach that saw gossip as a tool for individual advancement. Other approaches have focused on its aesthetic aspects, its uses in negotiating between overlapping moral systems, and its role in variously exacerbating structures of political oppression or resisting them. The relationship between gossip and reputation, the way in which gossip articulates with larger systems of information flows, and the link between gossip and emotions remain underexplored areas in ethnographic approaches to gossip.

Keywords: gossip, ethnography, social context, culture, politics, aesthetics, emotion, morality, interaction

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