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SOCC03H3 (15)


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John Hannigan

Lecture 3 – Sept26 Today and next week we focus on rumors. - Urban legends, gossip, conspiracy theories - Next week: handout assignment - Acting crowd: protests, riots - It’s not every day that you participate in a riot or protest - Rumor: o simple o credibility in question but has elements of truth/believability o used to be passed on thru word of mouth but nowadays by internet o evolves as it gets passed on - rumors are embedded in our culture and language o e.g. rumor has it 1 rumor: Paul McCartney dead - article appeared in northern star (paper in northern Illinois uni) with title “hint about possible Beatle death” o paul mccartney dead and is now using a body double - Whether if people heard the rumor actually believe it is another story. Rumor did have a lot of entertainment value though. o Credibility was given by rumor going on paper and radio 2 rumor: 1981 – product rumor about company Procter and Gamble - Headquarters picked up phone calls from consumers alleging that the company had significant ties to Satan (mostly from Minnesota) - Mostly because of the logo - Rumor was that the owner appeared on a popular talk show that he had given 20% of the profit to the “Church of Satan” - Other rumors state that the owner had made deals with the Satan - Rumor spread from southern USA to other parts of the country - Ultimately, Procter and Gamble was forced to pull the logo off their products - The rumor started by Youth for Christ where religion had played a significant role. Jim Peters was the 2 source who is a Christian crusader against rock music (work of devil) and made claims about the logo. - 2 time the rumor spread, it was because of competing company. - “Rumor is an expression of a belief about a specific event that is supposed to have happened is about to happen” book pg4 - Certain types of rumors often focus on events that are about to happen (e.g. sports trades) o This is fascinating because sports fans look for confirming evidence that can prove the rumor true o In sports, most of the rumors do not actually happen - One of the themes in this book is that “how does globalization lead to rumors” o Maybe it’s because it’s too global, it’s harder to find confirmation and is a confusing world - The original research on rumors has not come out of collective behaviour but from social psych - Loose lips sink ships: in Britain and the US, government went to great efforts to convince people not tell secrets because people with accents might turn out to be spies - One of the things about war is that the government controls the info and to control the flow of info o When you have tightly controlled info, it leads to rumors because when people do not have access to info, they try to seek out info from unofficial channels - Basic law of rumor: if subject of particular story is important to the listener and the story
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