What's love got to do with it? Love-life gossip and migration intentions in rural Iceland

Greta Bergrun Johannesdottir*, Thoroddur Bjarnason, Aileen Stockdale, Tialda Haartsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Curiosity and gossip often underline human activities and social behavior. Gossip can work as an instrument of power, controlling people's actions but can it actively play a role in migration intentions? Migration studies often focus on structural and economic factors that influence people's decisions to relocate, but socio-cultural factors such as gossip are not often included. Gossip is considered a fixed, given characteristic of small close-knit communities. Those communities often face the fact that fewer women decide upon residency in these locations. This research reveals the influence of personal gossip about love-life on out-migration intentions in small communities in Iceland, particularly for women. The research uses quantitative data from 56 villages in rural Iceland, collected as an online survey, examining migration and migration intentions. This paper examines if gossip in small close-knit rural communities can affect migration intentions and if this is particularly an issue for women. Our data show, that this is indeed the case. That is, the more gossip there is about people's love-life, the more likely they are to have migration intentions. However, we do not find a significant gender difference in migration intentions in regards to this intimate type of gossip.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-242
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2021


  • Gossip
  • Iceland
  • Out-migration
  • Rural
  • Social control

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