4.4   Laughing apart

Humor and the reproduction of exclusionary workplace cultures

Danielle J. Deveau and Rebecca Scott Yoshizawa


Humor has great potential as an untapped business resource; however, we are here concerned with the ways in which enthusiasm about the value of humor in social relations may mask the extent to which jokes, pranks, gags, and laughs can also instantiate negative effects in the social relationships that constitute the work environment. As scholars Penelope Brunner and Melinda Costello argue in relation to women in leadership positions, “sexual humor may be used, consciously or unconsciously, to undermine control.”1 They find that in these instances sexual humor is used not only to undermine female authority ...

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