Symbolic Convergence in Gossip Girl: The Fantasy of the “In Crowd”

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From high school girls desperately trying to be one of cool kids in school to corporate warriors rubbing elbows for that next promotion, nearly everyone has fantasized about being a part of the “in crowd”. What is it that makes the bonds and barriers of “in crowd” so unbreakable? Through sharing stories and reaching conclusions through discussion of those stories, members of small groups develop a common bond that shapes their social reality. An example of this bond is prominent in the CW’s hit show, Gossip Girl, which focuses on the world of high society elite at a private high school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York. Circumstances in Gossip Girl show how concepts in symbolic convergence describe the formation of group bonds and their effect on the group’s and individual group member’s interaction with the outside world. Before analyzing this, one must be knowledgeable about the basic components of symbolic convergence and have a general understanding of the show’s premise and plot line.

Symbolic Convergence

The theory of symbolic convergence was developed by University of Minnesota professor, Ernest Bormann. Originally called fantasy theme analysis, Bormann set out to develop a method of rhetorical criticism, which uses a dramatistic approach (Griffin, 2009, p. 27). While completing his research, he noticed a distinct connection between the use dramatic imagery and the degree of group consciousness and solidarity. He named this connection symbolic convergence, meaning “The linguistic process by which group members develop a sense of community or closeness; cohesiveness, unity, solidarity,” (Griffin, 2009, p. 29). The driving force of symbolic convergence is the fantasy. Bormann defines the fantasy as, “The crea...

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