The focus of this paper is on the organizational significance of shop-floor humour and in particular its relationship to gender identity and working-class resistance. A brief review of the literature on organizational humour is followed by a more detailed examination of the illuminating analysis by Willis of school/shop-floor counter-culture. Although his research provides a strong basis for the case study presented below, it is criticized for a tendency to romanticize working-class culture, humour and informal opposition.
In contrast, by means of an empirical analysis of joking forms in the components division of a lorry producing factory, the paper then explores not only the collective elements, but also the internal divisions and contradictions that characterize shop-floor relations. By critically questioning the workers' manifest search to secure a highly masculine sense of identity, the paper is able to highlight a 'darker side' of shop-floor culture, which underpins and ultimately undermines the creative humour and collectivity found in the factory.
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