Skip to main content

Humour as Culture in Infancy

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Research on Young Children’s Humor

Part of the book series: Educating the Young Child ((EDYC,volume 15))

Abstract

Humour is a fundamentally cultural process, beginning in the I-Thou interactions of early infancy. Humorous engagements in infancy thus offer a unique insight into the origins and meanings of funniness, a potential diagnostic tool for assessing infant ‘typicality’ and powerfully exemplify the process of culture. Three important aspects of cultural process are its dialogicality, its particularity and its precariousness. All three are strongly evident in humorous interactions in early infancy and different aspects of infant humour are discussed to illustrate them. Infants are active participants in the cultures of humour which seek to draw them in, and contribute through humour creation and playfulness, both to their maintenance and their change.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Altmann, S. A. (1988). Comment. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 11, 244–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bakhtin, M. M. (1984). Rabelais and his world. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Battrick, C., Glasper, E. A., Prudhoe, G., & Weaver, K. (2007). Clown humour: The perceptions of doctors, nurses, parents and children. Journal of Children’s and Young People’s Nursing, 1(4), 174–179.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bergson, H. (1913). Laughter: An essay on the meaning of the comic. London, UK: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bremmer, J. (1991). Walking, standing and sitting in ancient Greek culture. In J. N. Bremmer & H. Roodenburg (Eds.), A cultural history of gesture: From antiquity to the present day. London, UK: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Carty, J., & Musharbash, Y. (2008). You’ve got to be joking: Asserting the naltical value of humour and laughter in contemporary anthropology. Anthropological Forum, 18(3), 209–217.

    Google Scholar 

  • Consalvo, C. (2009). Humor in management: No laughing matter. Humor – International Journal of Humor Research, 2(3), 285–298. https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.1989.2.3.285

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Di Paolo, E. (2009). Extended life. Topoi, 28, 9–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dynel, M. (2008). No aggression, only teasing: The pragmatics of teasing and banter. Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, 4(2), 241–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eco, U. (1998). Faith in fakes: Travels in hyperreality. London, UK: Vintage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eisenberg, A. R. (1986). Teasing: Verbal play in two Mexican homes. In B. B. Schieffelin & E. Ochs (Eds.), Language socialization across cultures (pp. 182–198). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ekirch, R. (2001). Sleep we have lost: Pre-industrial slumber in the British Isles. The American Historical Review, 106(2), 343–386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Freud, S. (1960). Jokes and their relation to the unconscious (pp. 194–195). New York, NY: W. W. Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fridlund, A. (1991). Sociality of solitary smiling: Potentiation by an implicit audience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 229–240.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Halliday, M. A. K. (1975). Learning how to mean. London, UK: Edward Arnold.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Hermann, C. (1989). The tongue snatchers. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hermans, H. J. M. (2001). The dialogical self: Toward a theory of personal and cultural positioning. Culture & Psychology, 7, 243–281.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holmes, J. (2006). Sharing a laugh: Pragmatic aspects of humor and gender in the workplace. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(1), 26–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huizinga, J. (1950). Homo ludens: A study of the play element in culture. Oxford, UK: Roy.

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, R. (1978). Jokes, theories and anthropology. Semiotica, 22(3/4), 309–334.

    Google Scholar 

  • Keltner, D., Capps, L., Kring, A., Young, R., & Heerey, E. (2001). Just teasing: A conceptual analysis and empirical review. Psychological Bulletin, 127(2), 229–248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lampert, M., & Ervin-Tripp, S. (2006). Risky laughter: Teasing and self-directed joking among male and female friends. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(1), 51–72.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lennox-Terrion, J. L., & Ashforth, B.E. (2002). From ‘I’ to ‘we’: The role of putdown humor and identity in the development of a temporary group. Human Relations, 55(1), 55–88.

    Google Scholar 

  • Loizou, E. (2005). Infant humor: The theory of the absurd and empowerment theory. International Journal of Early Years Education, 13(1), 43–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Loudon, J. (1970). Teasing and socialization on Tristan de Cunha. In P. Mayer (Ed.), Socialization: The approach from social anthropology (pp. 293–332). London, UK: Tavistock.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mannheim, B., & Tedlock, D. (1995). The dialogic emergence of culture. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mauss, M. (1979). The notion of body techniques. In B. Brewster (Ed. & Trans.), Sociology and psychology essays. London, UK: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mireault, G., Crockenberg, S., Heilman, K., DSparrow, J., Cousineau, K., & Rainvile, B. (2017). Social, cognitive, and physiological aspects of humour perception from 4 to 8 months: Two longitudinal studies. British Journal of Developmental Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjdp.12216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mireault, G. C., Crockenberg, S. C., Sparrow, J. E., Cousineau, K., Pettinato, C., & Woodard, K. (2015). Laughing matters: Infant humor in the context of parental affect. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 136, 30–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pawluk, C. (1989). Social construction of teasing. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 19(2), 145–167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reddy, V. (1991). Playing with others’ expectations: Teasing and mucking about in the first year. In A. Whiten (Ed.), Natural theories of mind (pp. 143–158). Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reddy, V. (1998). Person-directed play: Humour and teasing in infants and young children. Report on Grant No. R000235481 received from the Economic and Social Research Council. Transcripts from study.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reddy, V. (2001). Infant clowns: The interpersonal creation of humour in infancy. Enfance, 53, 247–256.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reddy, V. (2008). How infants know minds. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Reddy, V., Williams, E., & Vaughan, A. (2002). Sharing humour and laughter in autism and Down’s syndrome. British Journal of Psychology, 93, 219–242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shotter, J. (1993). Cultural politics of everyday life: Social constructionism, rhetoric and knowing of the third kind. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sroufe, L. A., & Wunsch, J. P. (1972). The development of laughter in the first year of life. Child Development, 43, 1326–1344.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thornton, J., & White, A. (1999). A Heideggarian investigation into the lived experience of humour by nurses in an intensive care unit. Intensive & Critical Care Nursing, 15(5), 266–278.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Trevarthen, C. (1980). The foundations of intersubjectivity: Development of interpersonal and cooperative understanding in infants. In D. Olson (Ed.), The social foundations of language and thought: Essays in honour of 1. S. Bruner (pp. 316–342). New York, NY: W. W. Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical investigations (G. E. M. Anscombe, & R. Rhees (Eds.), G. E. M. Anscombe, Trans.). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vasudevi Reddy .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Reddy, V. (2019). Humour as Culture in Infancy. In: Loizou, E., Recchia, S.L. (eds) Research on Young Children’s Humor. Educating the Young Child, vol 15. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-15202-4_11

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-15202-4_11

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-15201-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-15202-4

  • eBook Packages: EducationEducation (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics