This article uses a form of linguistic ethnography to analyze videotaped recordings of gossip that took place during formal school meetings. By comparing this gossip data against existing models of gossip based on data collected in informal settings, we identify eleven new response classes, including four forms of indirectness that operate to cloak gossip under ambiguity, and seven forms of avoidance that change the trajectory of gossip. In doing so, this article makes three larger contributions. First, it opens a new front in research on organizational politics by providing an empirically grounded, conceptually rich vocabulary for analyzing gossip in formal contexts. Second, it contributes to knowledge about social interactions in organizations. By examining gossip talk embedded within a work context, this project highlights the nexus between structure, agency, and interaction. Third, it contributes to understandings of gossip in general. By examining gossip in a context previously unexamined, this project provides analytical leverage for theorizing conditions under which gossip is likely and when it will take various forms.
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Hallett, Tom, Brent Harger, and Donna Eder. "Gossip at Work: Unsanctioned Evaluative Talk in Formal School Meetings." Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 38, no. 5 (2009). pp. 584-618.
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Original version available from the publisher at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0891241609342117