Klatsch: Die Moral der Gesellschaft in der Interaktion unter Anwesenden

Kieserling, André
July 1998
Soziale Systeme;1998, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p387
Academic Journal
Gossip is usually defined as a morally coded judgement applied to the behaviour of absent persons. The notion of absent persons refers to the system of face to face interaction. The notion of moral refers to the system of society. The concept of gossip has therefore to deal with the tension between these two-system references of interaction and society. Interaction systems tend to dethematize the moral of society, because it is too near to conflict. Society, on the other hand, needs a rethematization of moral. Gossip combines these two strategies: it dethematizes moral questions as long as the object of moral criticism is present, and it rethematizes moral questions in the absence of the criticised person. It is argued that modernity increases the differentiation of interaction and society. Gossip (and also flattery) thereby loses its early modern prominence in an ethical theory of society. A more appropriate framework for dealing with these phenomena seems to be a sociological theory of organization. For theorizing gossip one therefore needs a general theory of social systems (Luhmann), which can deal with interaction systems, with organization systems and with systems of society.


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