Analyzing Media and Pop Culture; Theories of Celebrity Gossip
1. Structural Functionalism
What is the function (or functions) of celebrity gossip for society? What purpose(s) does it serve, and how does it help society maintain stability and order? Discuss how notions of sacred and profane are characterized. Are there manifest and latent functions of celebrity gossip? Are there any dysfunctions in it?
2. Conflict Theory
What forms of inequality are revealed in celebrity gossip? In particular, what does it have to say about class, race, gender, sexuality, or other inequalities? Whose interests are being served and who gets exploited? Who suffers and who benefits from celebrity gossip?
3. Symbolic Interactionism
What does celebrity gossip mean to society as a whole? What does it mean to individual members of society? Can gossip have different meanings for different individuals or groups of individuals? How do those meanings get constructed in interaction? And how does celebrity gossip influence our everyday lives?
ASSIGNMENT: Select the material you will analyze, and answer each of the three sets of questions in a 3 PAGE ESSAY. Discuss the main principles of the three theoretical perspectives and explain how each can be applied. You will want to include specific examples from your chosen stories to illustrate your points. Did the theories overlap at all, or did they contradict each other? Was there any one theory you felt did a better or worse job of explaining celebrity gossip? Attach printouts of the stories to the paper.