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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Julie Novak

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that gossip meets many social and individual needs and serves several functions, often conflicting in the literature. The current study focused on examining the experiences of mothers as they publicly share and privately consume celebrity gossip to better understand celebrity gossip's functions. Motherhood is a demanding role filled with uncertainty and information seeking, as mothers seek to understand what constitutes a "good mother." Given that mothers may selectively seek and expose themselves to content to gain information, reduce uncertainty and to find validation they are a "good mother," this study revealed that participation in celebrity gossip plays a functional role by meeting both social and individual needs in these mothers' lives. Of particular interest however, was the exploration of the relationship between the public sharing and private consumption of celebrity gossip. Three focus groups and six individual interviews were conducted with mothers who enjoy sharing and consuming celebrity gossip. A Grounded Theory approach was used to analyze the data, revealing eight emergent categories. The study found that while celebrity gossip does meet social and individual functions, the process is also more complex, involving a simultaneous interaction taking place when mothers publicly share and privately consume celebrity gossip.

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