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Theorising Humour

  • Barbara Plester
Chapter

Abstract

Most ancient philosophers discussed and theorized about humour. This chapter offers an overview of humour theories, research and literature starting with the ancient philosophers (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all theorized about humour) and moving through to psychoanalytical theories of joking and laughter from psychologists such as Sigmund Freud. Freud (Jokes and their relations to the unconscious (A. Richards, Trans. 1991). London: Penguin, 1905) devoted an entire book to the role of humour in society (Jokes and their relation to the unconscious). While Freudian theories propose that humour is a transgressive release in which people express their unconscious attitudes on taboo topics such as sex and aggression, alternative notions of humour also include the Hobbesian notion of humour as superiority; and the contention that most (or all) humour features incongruity and even nonsensical aspects. The discussion of traditional humour theories are followed by more modern approaches used in organizational research and comprise relational and group models relevant to workplace humour. The chapter concludes with a brief overview of fun and the introduction of a new tripartite model of fun developed from my organizational research.

Keywords

Incongruity Relief Release Superiority Relational Theory Fun 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Plester
    • 1
  1. 1.Management & International BusinessUniversity of Auckland Business SchoolAucklandNew Zealand

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