Rumor Mills / Edition 1

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Overview

The goal of this volume is to explore the social and political dynamics of rumor and the related concept of urban or contemporary legend. These forms of communication often appear in tandem with social problems, including riots, racial or political violence, and social and economic upheavals. The volume emphasizes the connection of rumor to a set of social concerns from government corruption and corporate scandal, to racial, religious, and other prejudices. Central to the dialogue are issues of truth, belief, history, public policy, and evidence.

Rumor has been recognized as one of the most important contributing factors to violence and discrimination. Yet, despite its significance in exacerbating social discord and mistrust, little systematic scholarly attention has been paid to the political origins and consequences of rumor. Rumor is defined as a proposition for belief that is not backed by secure standards of evidence. Rumor can be traditional or not, and can be expressed as a simple claim of fact. In both instances groups of claim-makers, operating out of their own interests and with a set of resources, attempt to depict reality, and if possible, impact the future.

The need for this book is underscored by changing patterns of technology. What in the past was grounded in face- to-face interaction is now often found on the Internet, which is a major source of rumor. An appreciation of how new electronic forms of communication affect communal belief is essential for explicating rumor dynamics. The volume is comprehensive. Essays cover race and ethnicity, migration and globalization, corporate malfeasance, and state and government corruption. While editors and contributors well appreciate the dynamic nature of rumors and legends, the high quality of the effort make it evident that the issues that are raised and reoccur will serve to channel and inspire research in this major field of communications research for years to come.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202307473
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Series: Social Problems and Social Issues Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Chip Heath is associate professor of organizational behavior in the Graduate School for Business at Stanford University in California. Each are accomplished authors and researchers—as are the participants in the volume itself.

Veronique Campion-Vincentis a folklorist at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, in Paris, France.

Gary Alan Fine is professor of sociology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

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Table of Contents

Rumor matters : an introductory essay 1
I The social production of conflict and prejudice
Introduction 11
1 Dramatic rumors and truthful appearances : the medieval myth of ritual murder by proxy 15
2 Rumors in times of war and cataclysm : a historical perspective 31
3 Rumors and religious riots 53
4 Mafia in Meran? : rumors and legends surrounding the "leather connection" : a case study 61
II The spread of rumors
Introduction 81
5 Psychological motivations in rumor spread 87
6 From evil others to evil elites : a dominant pattern in conspiracy theories today 103
7 Legend/antilegend : humor as an integral part of the contemporary legend process 123
8 How rumor begets rumor : collective memory, ethnic conflict, and reproductive rumors in Cameroon 141
9 The effects of legends, rumors, and related genres on audiences 159
III The creation of plausibility
Introduction 169
10 Fashion, topical jokes, and rumor as short-term enthusiasms 173
11 Celebrating Arabs and grateful terrorists : rumor and the politics of plausibility 189
12 Beyond rumor and legend : some aspects of academic communication 207
13 Negatory rumors : from the denial of reality to conspiracy theory 223
14 Social construction and social consequences : rumors and evidence 241
Conclusion - rumor and legend : seven questions 255
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