Word Of Mouth (WOM) in 2.0 era. When rumors become urban legends

Renata Metastasio


New forms of communication via web 2.0, and Social Networks particularly,
have acted as powerful means of amplifying a phenomenon with ancient origins
and which has stimulated the interest of communication and society scholars
since the beginning of the last century: urban legends. Stories exemplary,
unverified, believed to be true, showing an extraordinary ability to spread and
survive dozens of years in deeply different social realities. This research aims to
highlight, beyond the apparent fleetingness of the phenomenon, stable elements
of structure and content, functional invariants of the narration, detectable
through the presence and the succession of narrative functions, hypothesizing a
continuity with other kinds of popular narration, such as the fairy tale and
myth, and differences with similar phenomena, such as rumors. A content
analysis was conducted on 165 texts of stories reported in different repertoires
and web sites. Multiple correspondence analysis and cluster analysis led to
identify four factors and four clusters that underline typical aspects of this kind
of stories, highlighting specific structural characteristics and content of the
same, in line with the theoretical indications coming from the studies conducted
so far in this field.


rumors; urban legends; narrative functions; content analysis.

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