Thanks for getting back to me on this, and I'm glad one of my
suggestions seems to have clicked.
Creating a taxonomy of gossip seems a manageable task, and more than
that, might actually turn out to be quite a useful contribution to the
literature on the topic.
Speaking of which...I gather you're already familiar with the
scholarly writings on gossip, some of which have already been
mentioned in the wikipedia article (linked to in the comments, below).
If not, that's certainly the first place to start, since you'll need
to immerse yourself in the academic thinking on this topic. I've
provided some useful links, below.
A taxonomy is simply a classification scheme, although, in truth,
there's rarely anything simple about them. The human mind readily
recognizes different categories of things and ideas (dogs and cats,
art and science), but laying out a framework within which one can
place all animals, or all academic subjects, or all types of gossip is
a challenging task.
Usually, taxonomies take into account multiple features of a thing in
order to know in which category they belong. In the case of animals,
for instance, it's not just a matter of, say, how they reproduce, or
whether or not they bear live young, or have fur...but a combination
of all those characteristics (and more) which determines their
appropriate category in the taxonomy of animals.
For gossip, you may want to consider a number of factors such as:
--Source -- is it personal, media gossip, internet, workplace, collegiate, etc?
--Content -- is it true, lies, a mix, indeterminate?
--Agressiveness -- is it trivial, mild, vicious
--Target -- is it aimed at a person, a celebrity, a politician, a
group, an organization?
--Intent -- is it meant to sting, undermine, embarass, ruin, distract?
I think you get the point.
The above isn't meant as a taxonomy (it's not anything close), but
simply as some aspects you can consider as you think through what an
actual taxonomy of gossip might looks like.
And while we're on the topic, I suggest you do some Google searches on
[ types of gossip ], [ taxonomy of gossip ] and so on, which leads to
(among other things):
Guarding the Tongue
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, in his book Jewish Literacy, describes three
types of gossip:
First is Rekhilut-This type of gossip involves talking about the
minute details of another person's life. The damage done by Rekhilut
is relatively minor, but it can led to worse types of gossip.
Second is Lashon ha-ra. Lashon ha-ra is negative but truthful
information about someone else. It is against Jewish law to spread
negative truthful information about others unless that person has the
need to know the information.
Third is Motzi shem ra- This is the spreading of malicious lies. Motzi
shem ra is the worst of the three and has the effect of murdering the
good name of a person.
Group Research Project: Gossip!!!
How Gossip Works
[good list of references]
Monitor on Psychology
The goods on gossip
Research on Gossip: Taxonomy, methods, and future directions
A half century of gossip research from multiple disciplines is
reviewed. Discussed are definitions of the construct; social,
evolutionary, and personal functions of the practice; and data
Best of luck with your thesis...let me know if there's anything else I
can help out with.