Who are the objects of positive and negative gossip at work?. A social network perspective on workplace gossip

Lea Ellwardt, Giuseppe Joe Labianca, Rafael Wittek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations

Abstract

Gossip is informal talking about colleagues. Taking a social network perspective, we argue that group boundaries and social status in the informal workplace network determine who the objects of positive and negative gossip are. Gossip networks were collected among 36 employees in a public child care organization, and analyzed using exponential random graph modeling (ERGM). As hypothesized, both positive and negative gossip focuses on colleagues from the own gossiper's work group. Negative gossip is relatively targeted, with the objects being specific individuals, particularly those low in informal status. Positive gossip, in contrast, is spread more evenly throughout the network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-205
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Networks
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2012

Keywords

  • ERGM
  • Exponential random graph modeling
  • Gossip
  • Informal networks
  • Social status
  • Work groups

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology

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