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By Michael Billig

From Thomas Hobbes' worry of the facility of laughter to the obligatory, packaged "fun" of the modern mass media, Billig takes the reader on a stimulating travel of the unusual international of humour. either an important paintings of scholarship and a singular contribution to the certainty of the humourous, it is a heavily enticing e-book' - David Inglis, college of Aberdeen This pleasant e-book tackles the existing assumption that laughter and humour are inherently reliable. In constructing a critique of humour the writer proposes a social concept that areas humour - within the type of ridicule - as relevant to social lifestyles. Billig argues that each one cultures use ridicule as a disciplinary capacity to uphold norms of behavior and conventions of which means. traditionally, theories of humour mirror wider visions of politics, morality and aesthetics. for instance, Bergson argued that humour comprises a component of cruelty whereas Freud steered that we mislead ourselves in regards to the precise nature of our laughter. Billig discusses those and different theories, whereas utilizing the subject of humour to throw mild at the perennial social difficulties of law, keep an eye on and emancipation.

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Additional resources for Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour (Published in association with Theory, Culture & Society)

Sample text

He does not comment on this imbalance, let alone try to explain it. In the context of positivism, the lack of research on hostile or negative humour cannot be considered fortuitous. It fits an ideological pattern that accentuates the positives of humour and downplays the negatives. Would any researcher wish to gain a reputation for trying to show that the humour in general has negative effects? qxd 22/06/2005 15:52 Page 24 Laughter and Ridicule who is professionally devoted to demonstrating the Positive Life Benefits that can accrue from enjoying the humour of ridicule.

One has to be as much as do. Therefore, the task is to become the sort of person who appreciates joy, contentment and the rest – in short, each person has the duty to become a positive person, no matter what sort of identities they are creating for themselves. Psychology is catching this mood. Psychological writers not only claim to provide the techniques for accentuating the positives but they celebrate the ‘mind-set’ of positivity in itself. They teach how to be positive. Humour has its place within this general pattern of psychological positivity.

The short answer would be to divide the category of humour into positives and negatives, into good and bad humour. Then ridicule, along with sarcasm and the laughter of bigotry, can be classified on the bad, negative side. For the social theorist, any such division into positive and negative humour would require justification. By contrast, popular psychologists are little troubled by the demands of theory. Their business is not to provide rigorous definitions or to root distinctions in tight theoretical structures.

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