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Book Chapter

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Blackwell Encyclopedia Of Sociology


Humor receives little attention in the social sciences relative to how often it appears in human interactions. It involves a wide range of phenomena at various levels of institutionalization, from accidental occurrences, through deliberate actions such as teasing and witty banter, to formal comedic performances, images and texts. Work in a number of disciplines suggests that it is typically caused by incongruous or contradictory experiences, that it involves implicit assumptions and messages, and that it can have consequences for social identities and power. These features make humor potentially relevant to sociology as an indicator of social contradiction, and as an element in strategies of domination, resistance, and coping.

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