"Don't fight the blue elephant": Humorous Signs as Protests and Conductors of Negotiations in Swedish Peace Support Operations
2013 (English)In: Res Militaris, E-ISSN 2265-6294, Vol. 3, no 3, 1-19 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
This article focuses upon the role of humour among Swedish soldiers deployed on peace supportoperations, and more specifically on ‘applied' workplace humour (Mulkay, 1988). Applied humour makes certain points about situations, social groups or phenomena beyond pure entertainment. Data refers first and foremost to workplace signs encountered at military compounds in Liberia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and interviews with 26 Swedish soldiers before, during and after their deployments. The findings suggest that humorous exchanges in missions abroad are omnipresent and serve many purposes: humour is a space for release from various stresses involved in a strictly hierarchical organization as well as in subordination to rules, policies and designed roles - but also where barbed ideas inappropriate for serious communication are vented (Fine, 1988). It is further argued that differences in the nature of operations (i.e. threat level and work tasks) is reflected in the messages' content. Even if the overall purpose of the humorous discourse seems to be more of a safety valve and ‘cathartic-ritual' than making a claim for change, this might in turn depend on the conviction that there is no alternative. Overall, the paper adds to the literature a description of humorous exchanges in a highly structured organizational setting where the need for sense-making is ever present.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 3, no 3, 1-19 p.
Applied humour, deployment stress, peace support operations, Swedish armed forces
Research subject Ledarskap under påfrestande förhållanden
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-4456OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-4456DiVA: diva2:689765