Sub-cultural sectarian joking behaviour in Northern Ireland: no laughing matter

G. Brown, F. Worthington

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

The paper reflects on employees’ use of pragmatic humour to manage ethno-national identity differences in six case study District Councils in Northern Ireland. It draws from empirical data gathered during sixty-five loosely structured interviews (Alvesson and Deetz, 2000) with a cross section of each council’s workforce. Dickson et al (2009) also explored the role of humour in maintaining and enhancing workplace ‘community relations’ in Northern Ireland from a social identity theory perspective, but our study provides a deeper analysis drawing from the rich history of humour research in organisation studies. This literature shows how humour generates and maintains cohesion between groups of employees (Bradney, 1957; Collinson, 1988, 1992), relieves frustrations with formal organisational constraints (Fineman, 2003), and provides an ‘escape route’ when introducing contentious subjects (Gabriel et al, 2000; Grugulis, 2002). Recent debate on the meaning and purpose of workplace badinage has differentiated between functionalist and critical perspectives. Functionalist studies by Barsoux (1996), Smith et al (2000) and others emphasise the benefits of humour for maintaining social order. More recently, critical studies have addressed some of the gaps and weaknesses in functionalist analyses (cf. Collinson, 2002) by: (i) avoiding a preoccupation with highlighting and explaining workplace humour as a way of maintaining social order, (ii) considering agents’ own reasoning for using humour, and, (iii) attending to humour’s role in maintaining and resisting unequal power relations at work. The paper draws from both the functionalist and critical traditions in analysing humour as an invaluable method of managing complexities of working life that demonstrates a resourcefulness and creativity in employees (Noon and Blyton, 1997: p140). Key Terms: Humour, Identity, Community Relations, Northern Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Event5th Annual Ethnography Symposium - Queen Mary University, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Sep 20103 Sep 2010

Conference

Conference5th Annual Ethnography Symposium
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityLondon
Period1/09/103/09/10

Fingerprint

humor
workplace
employee
social order
working life
frustration
group cohesion
national identity
community
creativity
pragmatics
district
history
interview

Keywords

  • Workplace Humour
  • Identity
  • Community Relations
  • Northern Ireland

Cite this

Brown, G., & Worthington, F. (2010). Sub-cultural sectarian joking behaviour in Northern Ireland: no laughing matter. Paper presented at 5th Annual Ethnography Symposium, London, United Kingdom.
Brown, G. ; Worthington, F. / Sub-cultural sectarian joking behaviour in Northern Ireland: no laughing matter. Paper presented at 5th Annual Ethnography Symposium, London, United Kingdom.
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Brown, G & Worthington, F 2010, 'Sub-cultural sectarian joking behaviour in Northern Ireland: no laughing matter' Paper presented at 5th Annual Ethnography Symposium, London, United Kingdom, 1/09/10 - 3/09/10, .

Sub-cultural sectarian joking behaviour in Northern Ireland: no laughing matter. / Brown, G.; Worthington, F.

2010. Paper presented at 5th Annual Ethnography Symposium, London, United Kingdom.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

TY - CONF

T1 - Sub-cultural sectarian joking behaviour in Northern Ireland: no laughing matter

AU - Brown, G.

AU - Worthington, F.

PY - 2010

Y1 - 2010

N2 - The paper reflects on employees’ use of pragmatic humour to manage ethno-national identity differences in six case study District Councils in Northern Ireland. It draws from empirical data gathered during sixty-five loosely structured interviews (Alvesson and Deetz, 2000) with a cross section of each council’s workforce. Dickson et al (2009) also explored the role of humour in maintaining and enhancing workplace ‘community relations’ in Northern Ireland from a social identity theory perspective, but our study provides a deeper analysis drawing from the rich history of humour research in organisation studies. This literature shows how humour generates and maintains cohesion between groups of employees (Bradney, 1957; Collinson, 1988, 1992), relieves frustrations with formal organisational constraints (Fineman, 2003), and provides an ‘escape route’ when introducing contentious subjects (Gabriel et al, 2000; Grugulis, 2002). Recent debate on the meaning and purpose of workplace badinage has differentiated between functionalist and critical perspectives. Functionalist studies by Barsoux (1996), Smith et al (2000) and others emphasise the benefits of humour for maintaining social order. More recently, critical studies have addressed some of the gaps and weaknesses in functionalist analyses (cf. Collinson, 2002) by: (i) avoiding a preoccupation with highlighting and explaining workplace humour as a way of maintaining social order, (ii) considering agents’ own reasoning for using humour, and, (iii) attending to humour’s role in maintaining and resisting unequal power relations at work. The paper draws from both the functionalist and critical traditions in analysing humour as an invaluable method of managing complexities of working life that demonstrates a resourcefulness and creativity in employees (Noon and Blyton, 1997: p140). Key Terms: Humour, Identity, Community Relations, Northern Ireland.

AB - The paper reflects on employees’ use of pragmatic humour to manage ethno-national identity differences in six case study District Councils in Northern Ireland. It draws from empirical data gathered during sixty-five loosely structured interviews (Alvesson and Deetz, 2000) with a cross section of each council’s workforce. Dickson et al (2009) also explored the role of humour in maintaining and enhancing workplace ‘community relations’ in Northern Ireland from a social identity theory perspective, but our study provides a deeper analysis drawing from the rich history of humour research in organisation studies. This literature shows how humour generates and maintains cohesion between groups of employees (Bradney, 1957; Collinson, 1988, 1992), relieves frustrations with formal organisational constraints (Fineman, 2003), and provides an ‘escape route’ when introducing contentious subjects (Gabriel et al, 2000; Grugulis, 2002). Recent debate on the meaning and purpose of workplace badinage has differentiated between functionalist and critical perspectives. Functionalist studies by Barsoux (1996), Smith et al (2000) and others emphasise the benefits of humour for maintaining social order. More recently, critical studies have addressed some of the gaps and weaknesses in functionalist analyses (cf. Collinson, 2002) by: (i) avoiding a preoccupation with highlighting and explaining workplace humour as a way of maintaining social order, (ii) considering agents’ own reasoning for using humour, and, (iii) attending to humour’s role in maintaining and resisting unequal power relations at work. The paper draws from both the functionalist and critical traditions in analysing humour as an invaluable method of managing complexities of working life that demonstrates a resourcefulness and creativity in employees (Noon and Blyton, 1997: p140). Key Terms: Humour, Identity, Community Relations, Northern Ireland.

KW - Workplace Humour

KW - Identity

KW - Community Relations

KW - Northern Ireland

M3 - Paper

ER -

Brown G, Worthington F. Sub-cultural sectarian joking behaviour in Northern Ireland: no laughing matter. 2010. Paper presented at 5th Annual Ethnography Symposium, London, United Kingdom.