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Gossip and the Everyday Production of Politics$
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Niko Besnier

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833381

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833381.001.0001

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Gossip, Hegemony, Agency

Gossip, Hegemony, Agency

(p.1) 1 Gossip, Hegemony, Agency
Gossip and the Everyday Production of Politics

Niko Besnier

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter provides an overview of the book’s main themes, concepts, and methodology. Gossip can be seriously understood only when embedded in a larger context of social relations and symbolic dynamics, as it is only a vehicle through which agents get things done or undone. This book explores this embedding. Its overarching theme is the emergence of political practice in the everyday and, in particular, the complexities of politics in small-scale societies where hierarchy and egalitarianism coexist in sometimes uneasy fashion and where the boundary between public and private is at best wafer thin. The book is based on fieldwork conducted in Nukulaelae Atoll, part of Tuvalu, known in colonial times as the Ellice Islands and independent since 1978. Today it is one of the world’s smallest microstates with around 11,636 inhabitants. The discussion rests on two analytic traditions: the microscopic analysis of interactional data, traditionally grounded in linguistic anthropology; and the macroscopic analysis of large-scale social processes, an approach associated with the sociocultural subfield of anthropology.

Keywords:   gossip, social relations, political practice, anthropology, Nukulaelae Atoll, Tuvalu

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