Convivial labour and the 'joking relationship'

humour and everyday multiculturalism at work

Amanda Wise*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Humorous joking, teasing, and banter are fundamental forms of social intercourse. This paper is about the role and effect of ‘humour’ in multiethnic blue-collar workplaces. Humour delineates boundaries of group membership, establishes insiders and outsiders, and offers a ritual solution to ambiguity and liminality, tension and social unease. Humour is Janus faced though. Historically, it has been a central tool of the racist; a way of expressing disgust and hatred with an exit strategy: ‘just joking’. This paper draws on these themes to consider findings from a large comparative study of ‘Everyday Multiculturalism at Work’ which compares workplaces in Singapore and Australia. The essay focuses on blue-collar male-dominated Australian workplaces and explores the role and function of interactional humour in mediating, reinforcing, and overcoming boundaries of racial and ethnic difference in a context of forced ‘encounter’. I consider both the positive, ludic qualities of humour as well as its negative dimensions and further situate the discussion in terms of certain forms of Australian working class masculinity. I offer the concept of‘convivial labour’ to describe the work that goes into negotiating interactional humour frames in multi-ethnic settings of forced encounter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-500
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
Volume37
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2016

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