Gossip in sheltered housing: Its cultural importance and social implications

Percival, John (2000). Gossip in sheltered housing: Its cultural importance and social implications. Ageing and Society, 20(3) pp. 303–325.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X0000773X


The purpose of this paper is to present a descriptive account and analysis of ethnographic research which focuses on gossip as an important social interaction between older people in sheltered housing. Analysis reveals that gossip plays a prominent role in the daily life of older people in the schemes studied, reinforcing social norms and values that assume great significance in a close-knit, predominantly female environment. Conclusions are drawn that while gossip may serve a useful social purpose in sheltered housing, it may also have important and paradoxical consequences for the individual. In particular, gossip is understood to be a form of interaction that encourages the individual to strike a balance between their personal and social needs in this communal setting.

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