When protest humor is not all fun: The ambiguity of humor in the 2017 Romanian anti-corruption grassroots mobilization

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Abstract

This article focuses on the ambiguous ideological work of citizen-produced humor in protest. Using the case of the 2017 Romanian anti-corruption protests as empirical data, the article shows how humor can simultaneously signal grassroots creativity and resistance to power structures, and reproduce conservative gender and class hierarchies. Unlike other types of texts, humor presents itself as an innocent and light message, absolved of the need for critical scrutiny. However, protest studies need to engage in a more nuanced way with the ideological articulation of democratic politics via protest humor by asking not only how humor helps protest communication, but also how it achieves shared enjoyment, for whom, and to what consequences for the ideological articulation of democratic politics. The article concludes by proposing that researcher reflexivity can afford a new sensitivity to the ambiguousness of protest humor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-197
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Communication
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021

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