Identity - power - humour : an anthropological exploration into Irish deaf culture

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Foley Cave, Susan
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Anthropology
Dublin Business School
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This research was to explore the identity-power-humour paradigm amongst the Irish Deaf Community. Deaf people's subaltern sense of communnitas, expressed through Irish Sign Language, is based on the shared experiences they encounter when faced with mainstream Irish society and through the many Deaf organized social events, political activism and through their sense of humour. The ethnography was conducted primarily through participant observation within the Dublin Deaf Community. The aim of the methodology was to elicit instances of Deaf joking rituals and the context in which they are told. Basso's primary and secondary texts in humour, provides a theoretical base from which a more all-encompassing analytical framework on humour could be devised. This revised working hypoFinal Year Project takes into account the historicity and power dynamics of joking relationships. The findings show, through humour, complex and diverse sets of power relations between Deaf and Hearing people are acted out both within the joking ritual and within the joking relationship. There appears to be no difference between the kind of joking ritual told amongst Deaf people and those jokes told by Deaf people to hearing people. The conclusions drawn have shown how Deaf-Hearing power relations are expressed through humour and the social functions that they serve.