Almost everyone gossips at one point in their life, people rarely talk about what the actual act of gossiping means and accomplishes. Gossip is extremely prevalent on college campuses but this population has seldom been included in studies. Drawing on quantitative survey data and qualitative interview data from female-identifying students at a small, elite liberal art college, this study looks at the meanings that gossip holds for the female-identifying students who use it and what purpose it serves. The results suggest that female-identifying students define gossip as an exchange of information. This definition, however, comes with an association of gossip with women and negative connotations. From my findings, three main uses of gossip arose: social capital, emotion and relationship building, and a tool of protection. Based on my results, I argue that the culture of college campuses necessitates the use of gossip for female-identifying students. In the current social climate, gossip networks are one of the most effective ways to communicate information that improves social capital, strengthens networks, and provides opportunities for risk management.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Jamie Kucinskas, Stephen Ellingson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.