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History of Humor: U.S. Modern and Contemporary

  • By: Alleen Pace Nilsen & Don Lee Fred Nilsen
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Humor in the United States reflects the country's diversity and the shifting statuses of its many cultural and social groups. Historical and social factors that will be briefly discussed here as contributors to the present state of American humor include marginalization related to ethnic and other differences; the expectation that citizens should be active participants in governance; the influence of capitalism and its encouragement of competition and new technologies; and folk or amateur humor, as opposed to humor prepared for profit.

Sources of Marginalization

The population of the United States is made up of people from many cultural backgrounds. As a result, there have been many groups throughout its history who may have felt marginalized in some way. For example, even those who were financially successful ...

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