Banter and beyond: the role of humor in addressing gendered organizational tensions and belonging within the UK Fire and Rescue Service

Anna M. Brown, Ruth Woodfield*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This article explores the role of humour, specifically banter, in addressing gendered organizational tensions within the UK Fire and Rescue Service during a period of modernizing change. Such tensions reflect who holds authority and who is deemed to belong, and we explore how banter is used to both contest and confirm authority associated with the formal rank system and the informal, masculinist ideal-typical worker in this context. We discuss banter’s various roles as a cohering mode of humorous workplace communication, one that can reduce tension and consolidate authority and belonging, as well as its boundary setting, testing, and crossing capacities. In terms of the latter, we ask whether banter can genuinely trouble masculinist organizational norms. We conclude that specific humorous episodes that go ‘beyond banter’ create particular ambivalence, but their impact is significantly limited by widespread discursive acceptance of banter as a central and permissible communication mode in Service culture.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages37
JournalGender Work and Organisation
VolumeEarly View
Early online date13 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Banter
  • Discourse
  • Fire and Rescue Service
  • Gender
  • Humor

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