March 10, 2019 • 1 min
In any socio-cultural milieu, people may be occupied in gossip for a substantial part of their everyday lives. Recognizing that studying our daily lives is the key to an understanding of human behavior. Anthropologists have long appreciated the significance of gossip. Nevertheless, sustained analysis of gossip remained intermittent until the 1960s, when three broadly distinct views emerged: the functionalist, the transactionalist, and the symbolic-interactionist. The functionalist view is exemplified by Max Gluckman. Gossip, Gluckman claims, is a culturally determined and sanctioned process, a social fact, with customary rules and with important functions. Notably, gossip helps maintain group unity, morality, and history. For Gluckman, the essence of gossip is a constant communal evaluation and reaffirmation of behavior by assessment against common, traditional expectations. Furthermore, gossip enables groups to control the competing cliques and aspiring individuals of which they are composed; through gossip, differences of opinion are fought out behind the scenes so that outwardly a show of harmony and friendship can be maintained.