Re: Why ethnical jokes?

Bryant (
22 Sep 1996 18:22:18 -0600

>>>> I have wondered why there are ethnical jokes? Is there any theory on
>>>> this matter?
>>>> I appreciate all type of countribuations both if you address me to
>>>> some works or if you simply put your idea under this thread.
>>>> Mojtaba

We humans tend to find stereotyping useful in two regards: 1) it
differentiates in-group from out-groups (usually in a fashion rendering
the former superior in some way), and 2) it simplifies the task of
predicting other folks' behavior.

Bumping into a Buddhist monk on a dark street at night elicits less
anxiety than bumping into a hooded Klansman (if one is black or Jewish or
is wearing a "racism sucks" T-shirt) even though the folks have never met.
Stereotypes are useful and mediate a lot of interactions.

Needless to say, they can also perpetuate destructive patterns of interaction.

I think that ethnic jokes are funny to folks because they serve both
of the apparent functions of stereotypes: they identify aspects of group
members' behaviors which seem predictable (the "so true, so true" aspect
of a joke)... this is evident when a group's member tells a joke about
his or her own group.

Secondly, ethnic and sexist jokes perpetuate stereotypes which justify
(or at least maintain) views of out-groups held in common within a given group.
This is useful when one needs to enhance in-group cohesion or to justify
inequities between groups, obviously.