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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 19, 2013

Getting dirty with humor: Co-constructing workplace identities through performative scripts

Zachary A. Schaefer
From the journal Humor


This paper shows how blue-collar workers co-construct humorous scripts to manage their workplace identities. It repositions humorous scripts as performative and highlights the process of co-construction to draw attention to the significance of script form and content during identity production. This case study is part of a year-long ethnographic project that identified the norms of blue-collar humor at a furniture moving company. It explores the process of co-constructing three humorous scripts: infusion, recalibration, and free behaviors (Ashforth and Kreiner 1999). The article shows the paradoxical processes through which employees used the scripts, both as a form of resistance to and a reinforcement of negative stereotypes. By showing how the scripts were used to resist and to reinforce negative stereotypes regarding blue-collar identities, the study concludes with several implications for identity management research. The three humorous scripts served as the discursive means through which workers navigated and reified their occupational identities.

Published Online: 2013-10-19
Published in Print: 2013-10-25

©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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