The 'Joking Relationship': Masculinity, humour and everyday multi-culturalism at work'

Room 710 Muirhead Tower
Lectures Talks and Workshops, Research, Social Sciences
Wednesday 29th June 2016 (13:00-14:00)
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Ann Bolstridge

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This seminar is about the role and effect of ‘humour’ in multi-ethnic blue-collar workplaces. Amanda Wise from Macquarie University, Australia, considers the ways in which humour interplays among culturally diverse workers in Australia.

Amanda Wise, Macquarie University, Australia

Building on a rich tradition of literature on ‘shop floor humour’ (REFS…. Collinson 1988; Korczynski 2011; Walker et al 1985; Handelman & Kapferer 1972; Plester 2015), the paper considers the ambivalent nature of humour at work as it relates to questions of everyday multiculture (Wise & Velayutham 2009; Neal et al 2013). By engaging sociological, linguistic and anthropological traditions of humour research, I explore the emergent forms of intercultural sociality produced through joking activity in culturally diverse blue-collar Australian workplaces.

The paper is based on a large qualitative study of ‘everyday multiculturalism at work’ in Australia and Singapore. Humour was described as being of central importance to participants. Yet it was important in quite paradoxical ways. In the majority of cases humour was core to the production of positive feelings among co-workers and facilitated bonds of sociality and a feeling of belonging among co-workers from different backgrounds. However, in some instances, humour produced exclusion from the group, offended, or belittled.

Amanda Wise will consider a number of key questions:

  • What do blue collar workers in highly ethnically diverse workplaces joke about?
  • Why is cultural difference such a common resource for shop floor humour?
  • Is ‘ethnic’ or ‘race’ humour always problematic?
  • If not, when is it, and when is it not?
  • How are the boundaries of acceptability established and what are the power dynamics at play?


If you would like to attend, please register using our online booking form.