Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Human all too Human: Gossip as Action

Dr James Wong.

The theme of the conference is ‘Future, Human’. My paper examines the familiar, perhaps all too human activity of gossip. Gossip has a bad reputation generally. I challenge this comfortable orthodoxy by arguing for ways in which gossip can be a benefit. Though not a vindication of gossip per se, my paper is a plea for partial acceptance of this commonplace practice by appreciating what it can do for individuals. Of course, the mere fact that it is commonplace does not warrant its acceptance. However, I contend that not only is gossip an activity that brings harmless pleasure for its participants, it can also potentially encourage critical self-reflection. By examining various features of gossip, such as trust among the participants and nonverbal and verbal clues in face-to-face interactions, gossip may yet provide individuals with an opportunity to achieve self-understanding. Gossip as an activity is a rather surprising way to sustain our humanity.


Dr James Wong  (Canada)
Associate Professor
Department of Communication Studies

  • Gossip
  • Trust

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)