WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT?
Technology and the Social Organization of Gossip
Article first published online: 21 APR 2005
The Sociological Quarterly
Volume 36, Issue 3, pages 607–628, June 1995
How to Cite
Harrington, C. L. and Bielby, D. D. (1995), WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT?. The Sociological Quarterly, 36: 607–628. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-8525.1995.tb00456.x
- Issue published online: 21 APR 2005
- Article first published online: 21 APR 2005
What happens when gossip—one of the most traditionally intimate forms of communication—“goes public” on electronic bulletin boards? We explore how impersonal trust, generated by the mode of transmission and the social context in which it occurs, alters gossip in particular and observable ways. Drawing upon exchanges about the entertainment industry that are representative of gossip on electronic bulletin boards, we find that members draw upon a variety of resources that shift gossip's verifiability from reliance on intimate social bonds and assurances of truthfulness to overt negotiations that emphasize honesty. We also observe how status and power hierarchies surrounding information are influenced by negotiated honesty. We conclude with some observations about the impact of technologies on the nature of social bonds.