Self-effacing wit as a response to oppression: Dynamics in ethnic humor

Authors
Citation
S. Juni et B. Katz, Self-effacing wit as a response to oppression: Dynamics in ethnic humor, J GEN PSYCH, 128(2), 2001, pp. 119-142
Citations number
47
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Psycology
Journal title
JOURNAL OF GENERAL PSYCHOLOGY
ISSN journal
0022-1309 → ACNP
Volume
128
Issue
2
Year of publication
2001
Pages
119 - 142
Database
ISI
SICI code
0022-1309(200104)128:2<119:SWAART>2.0.ZU;2-#
Abstract
Theories of self-effacing ethnic humor are analyzed from the perspectives o f psychological defense and acculturation. These processes are contrasted w ith masochism as explanations of self-directed wit. Developmental paradigms are appealed to in conceptualizing the sociocultural function of humor. Id entification with the aggressor is conceptualized as a transitional mechani sm to assimilate the minority into the host culture. Turning against the se lf is developed as an alternate mechanism that uses humor as a means of sel f-empowerment. Reframing and splitting are posited as integral to the defen sive process of ethnic humor. The method of luring the aggressor into a sit uation that is then used against him is construed as the kamikaze maneuver and conceptualized as an ambush technique in which the role of self-effacem ent facilitates aggression. The analytic elements of these approaches are e xplored with reference to Jewish humor as a stereotype of the wit of a tran sient and oppressed people, and annotated examples are offered from publish ed anthologies. Illustrative vignettes, ranging from the mundane to the cli nical, are annotated in the discussion. Directions for further inquiry are outlined for issues unresolved in the research literature.