“Taking the piss”: Functions of banter in the IT industry

“Taking the piss”: Functions of banter in the IT industry Abstract This paper shows how banter helps forge organizational culture by facilitating socialization of work group members and presents original research conducted in three IT companies. Informants identified their style of humor as “taking the piss,” a colloquial term meaning to use jocular abuse to deflate someone else's ego to bring them to the same level as others. The IT organizations studied were young, creative and energetic and the banter was lively and almost always enjoyed. Six main functions of banter were identified: making a point, boredom busting, socialization, celebrating differences, displaying the culture, and highlighting and defining status. Banter occurred more readily when it involved popular and well-liked colleagues that were fully socialized into the organizational culture. Personal characteristics and traits—such as ethnicity, gender, age, height or dress style—were the target of much banter. Much of the literature discussing banter has focused on the negative effects of jocular abuse at work. This paper emphasises how banter helped facilitate functioning cultural systems in the organizations studied. However, for those not socialized through the banter into the in-group, banter was often experienced as painful, exclusionary and even insulting. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Humor: International Journal of Humor Research de Gruyter

“Taking the piss”: Functions of banter in the IT industry

Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, Volume 20 (2) – May 23, 2007

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 by the
ISSN
0933-1719
eISSN
1613-3722
DOI
10.1515/HUMOR.2007.008
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract This paper shows how banter helps forge organizational culture by facilitating socialization of work group members and presents original research conducted in three IT companies. Informants identified their style of humor as “taking the piss,” a colloquial term meaning to use jocular abuse to deflate someone else's ego to bring them to the same level as others. The IT organizations studied were young, creative and energetic and the banter was lively and almost always enjoyed. Six main functions of banter were identified: making a point, boredom busting, socialization, celebrating differences, displaying the culture, and highlighting and defining status. Banter occurred more readily when it involved popular and well-liked colleagues that were fully socialized into the organizational culture. Personal characteristics and traits—such as ethnicity, gender, age, height or dress style—were the target of much banter. Much of the literature discussing banter has focused on the negative effects of jocular abuse at work. This paper emphasises how banter helped facilitate functioning cultural systems in the organizations studied. However, for those not socialized through the banter into the in-group, banter was often experienced as painful, exclusionary and even insulting.

Journal

Humor: International Journal of Humor Researchde Gruyter

Published: May 23, 2007

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