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

Samuel Juni, Bernard Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Theories of self-effacing ethnic humor are analyzed from the perspectives of psychological defense and acculturation. These processes are contrasted with masochism as explanations of self-directed wit. Developmental paradigms are appealed to in conceptualizing the sociocultural function of humor. Identification with the aggressor is conceptualized as a transitional mechanism to assimilate the minority into the host culture. Turning against the self is developed as an alternate mechanism that uses humor as a means of self-empowerment. Refraining and splitting are posited as integral to the defensive process of ethnic humor. The method of luring the aggressor into a situation that is then used against him is construed as the kamikaze maneuver and conceptualized as an ambush technique in which the role of self-effacement facilitates aggression. The analytic elements of these approaches are explored with reference to Jewish humor as a stereotype of the wit of a transient and oppressed people, and annotated examples are offered from published anthologies. Illustrative vignettes, ranging from the mundane to the clinical, are annotated in the discussion. Directions for further inquiry are outlined for issues unresolved in the research literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-142
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of General Psychology
Volume128
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

Fingerprint

Wit and Humor
oppression
humor
Masochism
acculturation
Permethrin
aggression
Acculturation
stereotype
empowerment
Ego
Oppression
Wit
minority
Aggression
paradigm
Psychology
Research

Keywords

  • Defense mechanisms
  • Jewish wit
  • Marginality
  • Masochistic humor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Self-effacing wit as a response to oppression : Dynamics in ethnic humor. / Juni, Samuel; Katz, Bernard.

In: Journal of General Psychology, Vol. 128, No. 2, 2001, p. 119-142.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Juni, Samuel ; Katz, Bernard. / Self-effacing wit as a response to oppression : Dynamics in ethnic humor. In: Journal of General Psychology. 2001 ; Vol. 128, No. 2. pp. 119-142.
@article{e9fca2bd6b4746fdb7758893915d944d,
title = "Self-effacing wit as a response to oppression: Dynamics in ethnic humor",
abstract = "Theories of self-effacing ethnic humor are analyzed from the perspectives of psychological defense and acculturation. These processes are contrasted with masochism as explanations of self-directed wit. Developmental paradigms are appealed to in conceptualizing the sociocultural function of humor. Identification with the aggressor is conceptualized as a transitional mechanism to assimilate the minority into the host culture. Turning against the self is developed as an alternate mechanism that uses humor as a means of self-empowerment. Refraining and splitting are posited as integral to the defensive process of ethnic humor. The method of luring the aggressor into a situation that is then used against him is construed as the kamikaze maneuver and conceptualized as an ambush technique in which the role of self-effacement facilitates aggression. The analytic elements of these approaches are explored with reference to Jewish humor as a stereotype of the wit of a transient and oppressed people, and annotated examples are offered from published anthologies. Illustrative vignettes, ranging from the mundane to the clinical, are annotated in the discussion. Directions for further inquiry are outlined for issues unresolved in the research literature.",
keywords = "Defense mechanisms, Jewish wit, Marginality, Masochistic humor",
author = "Samuel Juni and Bernard Katz",
year = "2001",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "128",
pages = "119--142",
journal = "Journal of General Psychology",
issn = "0022-1309",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Self-effacing wit as a response to oppression

T2 - Dynamics in ethnic humor

AU - Juni, Samuel

AU - Katz, Bernard

PY - 2001

Y1 - 2001

N2 - Theories of self-effacing ethnic humor are analyzed from the perspectives of psychological defense and acculturation. These processes are contrasted with masochism as explanations of self-directed wit. Developmental paradigms are appealed to in conceptualizing the sociocultural function of humor. Identification with the aggressor is conceptualized as a transitional mechanism to assimilate the minority into the host culture. Turning against the self is developed as an alternate mechanism that uses humor as a means of self-empowerment. Refraining and splitting are posited as integral to the defensive process of ethnic humor. The method of luring the aggressor into a situation that is then used against him is construed as the kamikaze maneuver and conceptualized as an ambush technique in which the role of self-effacement facilitates aggression. The analytic elements of these approaches are explored with reference to Jewish humor as a stereotype of the wit of a transient and oppressed people, and annotated examples are offered from published anthologies. Illustrative vignettes, ranging from the mundane to the clinical, are annotated in the discussion. Directions for further inquiry are outlined for issues unresolved in the research literature.

AB - Theories of self-effacing ethnic humor are analyzed from the perspectives of psychological defense and acculturation. These processes are contrasted with masochism as explanations of self-directed wit. Developmental paradigms are appealed to in conceptualizing the sociocultural function of humor. Identification with the aggressor is conceptualized as a transitional mechanism to assimilate the minority into the host culture. Turning against the self is developed as an alternate mechanism that uses humor as a means of self-empowerment. Refraining and splitting are posited as integral to the defensive process of ethnic humor. The method of luring the aggressor into a situation that is then used against him is construed as the kamikaze maneuver and conceptualized as an ambush technique in which the role of self-effacement facilitates aggression. The analytic elements of these approaches are explored with reference to Jewish humor as a stereotype of the wit of a transient and oppressed people, and annotated examples are offered from published anthologies. Illustrative vignettes, ranging from the mundane to the clinical, are annotated in the discussion. Directions for further inquiry are outlined for issues unresolved in the research literature.

KW - Defense mechanisms

KW - Jewish wit

KW - Marginality

KW - Masochistic humor

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0035321925&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0035321925&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

VL - 128

SP - 119

EP - 142

JO - Journal of General Psychology

JF - Journal of General Psychology

SN - 0022-1309

IS - 2

ER -