Convivial labour and the 'joking relationship': humour and everyday multiculturalism at work

Amanda Wise*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 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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