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Subversive Humor

  • By: Meredith Marra
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture
  • Keywords:humor

While its most overt and recognized function is to amuse and entertain, humor is duplicitous and has the ability to serve other less positive functions. Subversive humor is the label for humor that aims to resist and challenge while implying that any critical content is intended in jest. This often neglected subversive function has received attention in the fields of organizational communication and workplace discourse where researchers investigate the ways in which humor can be used to unsettle power asymmetries at work. Political resistance is another area in which subversive humor is highly relevant due to its ability to create a safe space for dissenters. Here subversive humor (e.g., cartoons critiquing a regime or jokes targeting entrenched gender discrimination) operates as a challenge to ...

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