Title

Humor in member narratives: Uniting and dividing at work

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-1997

Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

The experience of humor consists of two simultaneous mental elements: a perception of a normal pattern and a perception of a violation of such a pattern. This study explored how humor was created in narratives within one organization to unify members in the face of potentially divisive values and behaviors, Paradoxically, in this context, humor also sen ed to stress behavioral or characteristic differences among organization members. Problematic values clashing as a result of these differences were channelled and negotiated through humorous narratives. By providing a less threatening means of acknowledging disagreement, humor served to promote unity among organizational members by reinforcing shared values and establishing the social order within the organization in the face of incongruous or conflicting values. Through enabling members to shift between unifying and differentiating narratives, humor allowed organization members to maintain unity in the face of diversity.

Publication Title

WESTERN JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION

Volume

61

Issue

2

First Page

188

Last Page

208