Building Academic Relations and Solidarity through Humour at Work

Nor Azikin Mohd Omar, Jariah Mohd Jan


The use of humor at workplace has been well researched in Western countries (Pizzini, 1991; Taylor and Bain, 2003;  Porcu, 2005;  Holmes, 2006; Hobbs, 2007; Lynch, 2010) but such studies in Asian societies are still in its infancy. This study aims to investigate the utilization of humor in academic meetings. In particular, it aims to investigate the factors that influence rapport building through humour in asymmetrical and symmetrical relationships. Data for the study comprise of video recordings of naturally-occurring interaction between academic staff meeting. Hay’s Taxonomy of Functions of Humour (1995) was used to categorise the functions of humour that mainly maintains solidarity among academicians. Results indicate that friendly teasing and “all-together-now” i.e. AATN (Coates, 1989) are frequently used amongst academics to develop and maintain solidarity. Humor appreciation is also shown to strengthen, construct and maintain collegiality in the workplace setting.


Keywords: humour; solidarity; workplace communication

Full Text:



Brown, R. & Gilman, A. (1960). The pronouns of power and

solidarity. In T. Sebok. (Ed.), Style in Language.

Cambridge: MIT Press, 253-277.

Coates, J. (1989). Gossip revisited: language in all- female groups. In Coates, J. & Tannen, D. (Eds.), Women

in their speech communities, London: Longman, pp. 94-121.

Coates, J. (2007). Talk in a Play Frame: More on Laughter and Intimacy. Journal of Pragmatics, 39, 29-49.

Hay, J. (1995). Gender and Humour: Beyond a joke. M.A Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Hay, J. (2000). Functions of humour in the conversations of men and women. Journal of Pragmatics, 32(6), 709-

Holmes, J. (2006). Sharing a laugh: pragmatics aspects of humour and gender in the workplace. Journal of

Pragmatics, 38(1), 26-50.

Holmes, J. & Stubbe, M. (2003). Power and politeness in the workplace. England:Pearson.

Jariah Mohd Jan. (1999). Malaysian Talk Shows: A study of power and solidarity in inter- gender verbal

interaction, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

Jefferson, G. (1978). A technique for inviting laughter and its subsequent acceptance declination. In Psathas, G.

(Ed.), Everyday Language: Studies in Ethnomethodolody, New York: Irvington Publishers, pp. 79-86.

Kathoff, H. (2003). Responding to Irony in Different Contexts: On Cognition in Conversation. Journal of

Pragmatics, 35(9), 1397-1411.

Katthoff, H. (2006). Gender and Humour: The State of Art. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(1), 4-25.

Martineau, W. H. (1972). A model of the social functions of humour. In Goldstein, J. H., & McGhee, P.E. (Eds.),

The Psychology of Humour: Theoretical Perspectives and Empiricial Issues, United States of America:

Academic Press, 101-124.

Norrick, R. N. (1993). Conversational Joking: Humour in Everyday Talk. Indianapolis: University Press:


Norrick, R. N. (2003). Issues in Conversational Joking. Journal of Pragmatics, 35, 1333-1359.

Tannen, D. (1984). Conversational Style: Analyzing talk among friends, Ablex Publishing Corporation: United

States of America.

Tannen, D. (1993). Gender and conversational interaction. Oxford University Press: New York.


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2247

ISSN : 0128-5157