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Workplace Control

  • By: Jim Lyttle
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The term workplace control refers to attempts by managers to get workers to do what is required to meet the organization’s goals. This entry discusses some direct and indirect uses of humor that have been documented over the years to control workers.

A workplace, unlike most other places, has both a common purpose and an authority structure to keep the energy focused on that purpose. For this reason, workplace humor could be classified into three broad categories: (1) humor that tends to support the purpose; (2) humor that tends to thwart that purpose; and (3) humor, usually silly, that has nothing to do with that purpose.

Humor that resists the purpose of the organization or that resists attempts by management to push for the organization’s purpose is ...

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