Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963879 | Print ISBN: 9781412926942 | Online ISBN: 9781412963879| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Urban legends are improbable stories that circulate from person to person. Usually odd and amusing, they are repeated as true stories about strange occurrences or bizarre events. A kind of folk narrative, they are typically validated because the source is personally known, is one or two steps removed (such as a “friend of a friend”), or is attributed with a vague mention that “I heard it somewhere.” Modern technology also plays a role in spreading urban legends in chat rooms and on the Internet, where the stories spread around the country with amazing speed. Capturing the public imagination and told and retold, most urban legends are harmless and amusing, but when analyzed, they frequently yield rich information about contemporary culture. While difficult or impossible to validate or discredit, the stories sound just true enough to be believable. Urban legends tend to touch on some subliminal fear or deeply held social ...