That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore: Humour, Jokes and Their Relationship to Social Work

Prof Doc Thesis

Jordan, Stephen 2015. That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore: Humour, Jokes and Their Relationship to Social Work. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
AuthorsJordan, Stephen
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Humour can be seen as trivial, peripheral and even an affront to some people in
relation to the solemn business of social work. This thesis makes an original
contribution to social work practice and thought, by exploring the relationship between
jokes, humour and social work. Jokes are worthy data in themselves to study, and
humour is intrinsic to social life. This thesis draws on the extensive body of literature on
humour and the history of joke telling. Neither have been studied together in relation to
social work.
Exposing contradictions in complex social phenomena has a track record as a creative
way of knowing. The methodological approach taken reflects the qualitative nature of
humour and jokes, and the analysis employed combined psychoanalytic and thematic
approaches, in which “thematized meanings” were found across data sets.
Social work and social workers occupy a contradictory position in society. The findings
here indicate that humour and jokes provide a transitional space which helps social
workers manage the contradictions and ambivalences of their work. The jokes made
about social workers reflect a profession under attack, and the humour and jokes made
by social workers reveal the desire to convey their humanity and to create
relationships. Importantly my research shows that whilst there is a danger in humour
being used unethically, humour can help social workers attach to their teams and their
colleagues, and help build resilience, as a culture of humour within teams creates a
nurturing environment, with social workers who will be more likely to stay in the job.
Importantly as well humour can help facilitate relationships with service users, and
become a tool for service users and social workers to bond.

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Deposited23 Oct 2015
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