The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration, and Trade Matter

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Overview

"A flat world allows bad ideas to travel faster. Using illustrations ranging from the history of the vampire to modern rumors about terrorism, Gary Alan Fine and Bill Ellis explain what happens when cultures collide, and they make you a smarter citizen of an increasingly connected world. If you want to spot the next whopper that appears in your in-box (or springs from the mouth of a television commentator) this book is essential."---. Chip Heath, author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" "In this readable, insightful book, Fine and Ellis offer a tight analysis of loose talk. They show how seemingly unrelated rumors-9-11 conspiracy theories, warnings about dangerous imported goods, and stories about stolen body parts-reveal a common theme: many people's discomfort regarding their growing experience with and exposure to what strikes them as foreign. Other analysts may cheer that the world is shrinking and getting flatter, but the stories we tell one another suggest that globalization remains pretty scary for lots of folks."---Joel Best, author of Stat-Sporting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data" "This is a brilliant piece of cultural criticism. Fine and Ellis rigorously scrutinize the rampant paranoid rumors of our time, explaining how and why these fantasies form, what they mean, and how we should deal with them. Everyone who listens to talk radio or uses the Internet should read this book."---Jan Harold Brunvand, author of Encyclopedia of Urban Legends.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fine (Whispers on the Color Line), John Evans professor of sociology at Northwestern, and Ellis, professor emeritus at Penn State, examine “the rumors and legends that circulate about the risks of our interconnected world” in their treatment of the most ancient source of news. The authors explore its influence in the “intimidating global community” of the 21st century, particularly in the arenas of terrorism, immigration, international trade, and tourism; they make a generally persuasive case that since “rumor shapes how people think and then respond to the world,” its propagation “is a fundamentally political act.” Relying on shards of evidence, bits and pieces of hearsay, the self-styled “rumor scholars” analyze an array of contemporary rumors and draw some unremarkable conclusions: e.g., Americans are “of several minds about immigration,” have “mixed feelings about the exotic,” and are anxious about the economic impact of international trade. Even if Fine and Ellis promise more than they deliver, there is much that adds to our understanding of rumor in an era when access to information (and misinformation) has never been faster or more constant. (June)
From the Publisher
"There is much that adds to our understanding of rumor in an era when access to information (and misinformation) has never been faster or more constant."—Publishers Weekly

"A flat world allows bad ideas to travel faster. Using illustrations ranging from the history of the vampire to modern rumors about terrorism, Gary Alan Fine and Bill Ellis explain what happens when cultures collide and they make you a smarter citizen of an increasingly connected world. If you want to spot the next whopper that appears in your in-box (or springs from the mouth of a television commentator) this book is essential."—Chip Heath, author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

"In this readable, insightful book, Fine and Ellis offer a tight analysis of loose talk. They show how seemingly unrelated rumors—9-11 conspiracy theories, warnings about dangerous imported goods, and stories about stolen body parts—reveal a common theme: many people's discomfort regarding their growing experience with and exposure to what strikes them as foreign. Other analysts may cheer that the world is shrinking and getting flatter, but the stories we tell one another suggest that globalization remains pretty scary for lots of folks."—Joel Best, author of Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data

"This is a brilliant piece of cultural criticism. Fine and Ellis rigorously scrutinize the rampant paranoid rumors of our time, explaining how and why these fantasies form, what they mean, and how we should deal with them. Everyone who listens to talk radio or uses the Internet should read this book."—Jan Harold Brunvand, author of Encyclopedia of Urban Legends

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199736317
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/10/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Alan Fine is John Evans Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University. His book, Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award.

Bill Ellis is Professor Emeritus of English and American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society and has served as President of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.

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Table of Contents

Introduction. Rumor: Plausible and Credible 1

1 Rumor and September 11: Understanding the Unthinkable 21

2 A Riot of Conspiracies 51

3 Migrants: Disease in the Body Politic 73

4 "There Goes the Neighborhood": Latino Migrants and Immigration Rumors 95

5 Tourist Troubles: The Travels of Global Rumor 123

6 The Menace of International Trade 147

7 Global Trafficking in Bodies 175

8 Whispers on the Borderline 201

Notes 221

Index 251

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