SOCIOLOGY OF GOSSIP AND SMALL TALK: A METATHEORY
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The present paper outlines a metatheory of gossip and small talk. While studies in the domain of the sociology of gossip are relatively sporadic, non-systematic, and sparse, we find it possible to identify three key perspectives from which social scientists usually consider gossip. These three perspectives closely correspond to George Ritzer’s metatheory, as well as his differentiation between the social facts paradigm, the social definition paradigm, and the social behaviour paradigm in sociology. Hence, in this paper, we also offer a brief overview of sociological research on the phenomenon of gossip, as well as studies conducted with the aim of answering the question of what people gossip about. Further, we thoroughly analyse the three abovementioned paradigms, which are here conceptualized as separate theoretical perspectives in the sociology of gossip. Concordantly, we argue the existence of functionalist, dramaturgical and social exchange perspectives in the context of theoretical and empirical research on gossip in the field of sociology as well as other social sciences. Finally, we claim that gossip is one of the essential characteristics of social life and, as such, plays a crucial role in the most important social processes, such as the maintenance of group and social cohesion, the transfer of cultural values, sociocultural learning, the establishment of social control, the process of gaining social reputation and status, social exchange of information, and others, which is why we believe that gossip merits a more central position in sociological inquiries.
559 – 577
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