Senses of Humor

A Study of Everyday Relationships to Politics
By Ariane Zambiras

Ethnographic observation is a preferred method of enquiry for capturing informal political discussions and thus understanding better the politicization process. Results from the fieldwork presented here show that humor is one of the ways informal discussions are politicized, particularly in public group contexts, because humor reduces the possibility of conflict inherent in political discussions. Introducing political content in the form of humor enables a speaker to test implicit political ideas without taking the risk of creating conflict. The failure of humor is a challenge for participants in a group discussion, but it is less intense and dangerous than disagreement expressed during a serious confrontation. Studying humorous events contributes to finding new ways of studying politicization and understanding how it operates, even though it risks creating disagreement within a community.

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