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'Lads and Laughter': Humour and the production of heterosexual hierarchies

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Anoop NayakORCiD


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This article will focus upon the role of humour in the cultures of young men in school. We adopt an ethnographic approach to illustrate the variety of these interactions which can include forms of game-play, mythic storytelling and ritual insults. Our analysis suggests that humorous exchanges are constitutive of heterosexual masculine identities. We argue that humour is a technique utilised for the regulation of masculinities and the negotiation of gender-sexual hierarchies within pupil cultures. Bodily practices were prevalent in the interchanges, playing a part in the contestation and production of differentiated heterosexualities. Humour was an organising principle, deployed to position pupils within differing dominant and subordinate peer group sexual cultures. The paper focuses on conformist aspects of humour and recognises the oppressive dynamics articulated in these exchanges. Finally, we consider the implications of these practices for contemporary working-class masculinity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kehily M, Nayak A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Gender and Education

Year: 1997

Volume: 9

Issue: 1

Pages: 69-87

Print publication date: 01/01/1997

ISSN (print): 0954-0253

ISSN (electronic): 1360-0516