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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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Morality and the Structure of Gossip

Morality and the Structure of Gossip

Chapter:
(p.94) 4 Morality and the Structure of Gossip
Source:
Gossip and the Everyday Production of Politics
Author(s):

Niko Besnier

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824833381.003.0004

Nukulaelae has a reputation throughout Tuvalu as the “island of gossip.” Although the people are embarrassed by this reputation, they concede that it holds more than a grain of truth. This chapter turns to a microscopic level of analysis of gossip interactions to explore how the way in which people actually gossip articulates morality. It analyzes fragments of gossip that were recorded and transcribed during fieldwork, and borrows analytic tools from a sociological tradition commonly referred to as “conversation analysis.” It is shown that in the process of gossiping, Nukulaelae people create both collusion and one-upmanship: they manipulate their audience into collaborating in the production of the gossip, but they also claim control of a juicy story. But like all social designs, collusion and one-upmanship as products are fragile, temporary, and unfinished.

Keywords:   Nukulaelae, gossip interaction, political ideology, morality, conversation analysis, collusion, one-upmanship

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