Humor is essential to social life, but it is often overlooked in the study of crime and other social problems. We introduce and make use of humor theory, emphasizing the theories of superiority and relief. Based on interviews with incarcerated men, we demonstrate how humor is used to criticize authorities, for self-aggrandizement, and to alleviate the pain of tragic experiences. Funny remarks and stories are often ambiguous and evade simple categorization, which may explain why humor is neglected in the study of social problems. We argue that researchers should pay more attention to humor to achieve a fuller understanding of marginalized individuals and their social worlds.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
- narrative criminology
- relief theory
- superiority theory