Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour, Michael Billig

17909_9781412911436About This Book 

`From Thomas Hobbes’ fear of the power of laughter to the compulsory, packaged “fun” of the contemporary mass media, Billig takes the reader on a stimulating tour of the strange world of humour. Both a significant work of scholarship and a novel contribution to the understanding of the humourous, this is a seriously engaging book’ – David Inglis, University of Aberdeen

This delightful book tackles the prevailing assumption that laughter and humour are inherently good. In developing a critique of humour the author proposes a social theory that places humour – in the form of ridicule – as central to social life. Billig argues that all cultures use ridicule as a disciplinary means to uphold norms of conduct and conventions of meaning.

Historically, theories of humour reflect wider visions of politics, morality and aesthetics. For example, Bergson argued that humour contains an element of cruelty while Freud suggested that we deceive ourselves about the true nature of our laughter. Billig discusses these and other theories, while using the topic of humour to throw light on the perennial social problems of regulation, control and emancipation.
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Table of Contents 

A Critique of Positive Humour
Superiority Theories
Hobbes and other Misogelasts
Incongruity Theories and Gentlemanly Laughter
Victorian Relief Theory
Bergson and the Function of Humour
Freud and the Hidden Secrets of Jokes
Laughter and Unlaughter
Embarrassment, Humour and the Social Order
Final Remarks
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Other Books on the Topic 

Examining Identity in Sports Media 
Heather L. Hundley and Andrew C. Billings
Key Concepts in Sport and Exercise Sciences 
David Kirk, Carlton Cooke, Anne Flintoff and Jim McKenna
Handbook of Sports Studies 
Jay Coakley and Eric Dunning
Globalization and Sport 
Toby Miller, Geoffrey A. Lawrence, Jim McKay, David Rowe
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Other Books by the Author 

The Hidden Roots of Critical Psychology 
SAGE Publications Ltd.
Banal Nationalism 
SAGE Publications Ltd, 1995.
Ideology and Opinions Studies in Rhetorical Psychology 
SAGE Publications Ltd, 1991
Talking of the Royal Family
Routledge, 1998
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Author Bio 

Michael Billig is Professor of Social Sciences at Loughborough University . Working in contemporary social psychology, he trained in Bristol with Henri Tajfel as an experimental psychologist and helped design the so called minimal group experiments which were foundational to the social identity approach. He moved away from experimental work to considering issues of power, political extremism and ideology in a series of important books. His Social Psychology and Intergroup Relations (1976) offered a trenchant critique of orthodox approaches to prejudice in psychology. Fascists (1979) helped reveal the classic fascist and anti-semitic ideology underlying the UK’s National Front at a time when it was bidding for political legitimacy and electoral success. In the 1980s his focus shifted to everyday thinking and the relationship between ideology and common sense. This strand of work is shown in the collectively written work Ideological Dilemmas (1988 – with Condor, Edwards, Gane, Middleton and Radley), Banal Nationalism, and in his major study of ideology and the UK royal family, Talking of the Royal Family (1998, 2nd Edition). 
Full profile and list of publications 

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