From 'I' to 'we': The role of putdown humor and identity in the development of a temporary group

Jenepher Lennox Terrion, Blake Ashforth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Participant observation of a 6-week Executive Development Course suggests that humor provides a key mechanism for enacting a sense of community for group members. Specifically the study examines the process through which putdown humor helps foster group identity and cohesion in a temporary group. Putdowns followed a pattern of development that signaled increasing trust and inclusion, and was regulated by implicit rules that incubated the emergent solidarity. The meaning of certain humorous episodes was equivocal, but the act of laughing together glossed over the equivocality so that the sense of community was reaffirmed. Further, social identity dynamics appeared to strongly affect perceptions of the appropriateness of humor. The authors conclude that shared putdown humor and the implicit set of rules regarding its use may facilitate solidarity, and they attempt to reconcile why 'inclusionary putdowns' were found here when 'exclusionary putdowns' are usually reported in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-88
Number of pages34
JournalHuman Relations
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

Fingerprint

humor
solidarity
Group
participant observation
group cohesion
group membership
community
inclusion
Sense of community
Solidarity
Sense of Community

Keywords

  • Putdown humor
  • Social identity
  • Temporary group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

From 'I' to 'we' : The role of putdown humor and identity in the development of a temporary group. / Terrion, Jenepher Lennox; Ashforth, Blake.

In: Human Relations, Vol. 55, No. 1, 2002, p. 55-88.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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