Humour as the Ordering and Disordering of Organisations

Allanah Johnston (2011). Humour as the Ordering and Disordering of Organisations PhD Thesis, School of Business, The University of Queensland.

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Author Allanah Johnston
Thesis Title Humour as the Ordering and Disordering of Organisations
School, Centre or Institute School of Business
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Bob Westwood
Jorgen Sandberg
Total pages 226
Total colour pages 16
Total black and white pages 210
Language eng
Subjects 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Abstract/Summary This thesis contributes to our understanding of the complexity of humour and its relationship to processes of organisation. Humour in organisations remains a comparatively under-researched area. What research has been done is grounded in functionalist assumptions, which often fail to consider the contextual and nuanced nature of humour in social relations. More critical approaches have identified a number of effects that humour can have in organisations, particularly humour’s relationship to power dynamics within organisations. These studies suggest that humour plays a significant role in processes of organisation, particularly in relation to the formation and maintenance of hierarchies and status differences, and in relation to the construction of identities. This body of research suggests that humour plays an important role in not only sustaining the social order in organisations, but also demonstrate that humour is able to ‘disorder’ social relations. However, the influence of humour in organising processes remains an under-developed and under-conceptualised area of inquiry. Based on three ethnographic studies, this research shows that humour plays an important role in ‘ordering’ social relations in organisations. It does this specifically by (re)affirming the hierarchical/social locations of organisational members, and by forming and sustaining individual and group identities that are connected with hierarchical difference and/or social location within the organisation. Humour is also shown to ‘disorder’ processes of organisation by challenging, and at times subverting, these hierarchies, status differences, and associated identities. This study demonstrates that while in some contexts humour sustains the dominant social order, in others it marks a distinct challenge and acts to subvert this process. The thesis shows that an analysis of humour provides a lens through which to explore when and how modes of organisation are formed and maintained but also when these are open for contestation. Overall, humour is shown to be deeply embedded in the social construction of organisations, yet an analysis of humour shows this to be a dynamic, fluid, and at times precarious process.  
Keyword humour, organisation, order/disorder, identity, ethnography
Additional Notes 11, 20, 49, 77, 99, 116, 147, 160, 161, 165, 166, 169, 178, 194, 210, 224

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Created: Thu, 03 Nov 2011, 20:49:52 EST by Ms Allanah Johnston on behalf of Library - Information Access Service