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Open Access Etnische humor en etnische relaties in Nederland

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Abstract

Ethnic humor and ethnic relations in the Netherlands: Jokes about foreigners and ethnic groups in the Netherlands, 1995-2012

How do ethnic jokes, a genre that is often considered to be offensive and discriminatory, relate to ethnic relations and discourses of ethnic difference? This article investigates the relation between ethnic jokes and ethnic relations in the Netherlands. It analyzes two corpora covering the range of ethnic jokes collected using an (almost) identical survey among high school students in 1995 (N = 248) and 2012 (N = 312). Finding a complex pattern of overlapping and shifting scripts, we identify three main categories of jokes with different dynamics. The first and second category, jokes about national groups and regional minorities and sick ethnic jokes, are both in decline. The third category, jokes about ethnic minorities, is prominent in both years, and the most important category in 2012. Jokes about minorities show considerable variation and a ‘lag’ in their reflection of societal changes. They refer to the most prominent ethnic stereotypes and ethnic discourse, and reflect the Dutch ethnic hierarchy and changes in ethnic relations over time. Besides, these jokes seem to function as a ‘cultural archive’, in which ethnic discourses are stored, even if they are (temporarily) less visible in serious discourses. We argue that a single theory or approach is not sufficient to explain all ethnic humor and its relation to societal relations. The large variety in ethnic jokes shows how varied ethnic discourses and interethnic relations are. We conclude with the question how ‘serious’ ethnic humor is and show two criteria to assess this seriousness of ethnic humor: the relation between jokes and actual hostility and exclusion, and the harshness of a joke cycle.
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Keywords: Nederland; etnisch discours; etnische hiƫrarchie; etnische humor; moppen; sociale verandering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Giselinde Kuipers is hoogleraar cultuursociologie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam en afdelingsvoorzitter van de afdeling Sociologie. Ze heeft veel gepubliceerd over humor - waaronder het boek Good Humor, Bad Taste. A Sociology of the Joke, gebaseerd op haar promotieonderzoek - en over populaire cultuur, media en culturele globalisering. Daarnaast werkt ze als hoofdonderzoeker aan haar ERC-project Towards a comparative sociology of beauty., Email: [email protected] 2: Barbara van der Ent heeft recent de research master Social sciences aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam afgerond en was werkgroepdocent bij verschillende vakken van de bachelor Sociologie. Als stagiaire was zij betrokken bij meerdere onderzoeken van het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau naar etnische verhoudingen en discriminatie. Barbara heeft de ambitie om in de toekomst te promoveren., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: November 1, 2016

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    Sociology (Sociologie) publishes articles on current social issues and sociological-theoretical subjects. The articles and essays are interesting for a wide interdisciplinary audience. In addition to research articles, research notes and book reviews Sociology provides a platform for exchange of views with the sections Debate and Inspiration. Sociology is the result of the merging of the prestigious journals Sociologische Gids and Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift and covers a wide field of sociology in the Netherlands.

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