Laugh it up or laugh it off: the use of humour within the fire service as a way of constructing, managing and coping with emotionality

Lauren Ward, Jane Callaghan, Lisa Fellin

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaper

Abstract

Historically, much research has focused on the use of humour, especially following traumatic events. Within organisational research, emotions are positioned as either instrumental to doing the job, or damaging to task effectiveness; either way this involves some sort of performance. Thus, individuals with emotionally challenging job roles must find ways to manage difficult or traumatic events, whilst still being deemed ‘professional’. Much research positions humour as a discursive tool to enable individuals to talk about feeling. Some researchers argued joking is a way of expressing these damaging or ‘toxic’ emotions, in a culturally masculine way. The current research using interviews with fifteen fire fighters, explored how fire fighters manage emotionality within their job roles. One clear theme that emerged was the use of humour as a strategy to construct, make sense of, and manage emotionally stressful events. This research therefore expanded further on the previous work, exploring how humour enabled them to make sense of emotionality.

Keywords

  • Emotion
  • mental health
  • fire service
  • performativity
  • emotional expression
  • masculinities
  • femininities

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