Humorists’ narratives on social role of humor in Turkey in a historical perspective

Eğilmezler Boylan, Melike
This dissertation analyzes the social role of humor in Turkish society through the narratives of a collection of prominent humorists. The comprehensive field research is conducted with 48 humorists encompassing ages 30 to 74 involved in humor magazines, theatre, cinema, television, radio, social media and writing across all mediums. It contributes to the sociological knowledge base by exploring how humor’s social role changes and shifts within the humorists’ narratives, depending on the sociopolitical context of Turkish society throughout the last 35 years - from 1980 to 2015. During the field research and data interpretation, an intricate web of cross-links between different thematic narratives was observed. The study found that the humorists focused on four major themes when interviewed on the social role of humor in Turkey. These themes are 1) humor as opposition, rebellion and freedom of expression; 2) humor as a witty defense mechanism; 3) humor as therapy, hope and survival, and finally 4) humor as self-reflection, communication & community formation. For theoretical context, and to read the meaning of their narrations, the study relied upon social theories of humor, in addition to a qualitative methodology. The thesis argues that humorists’ narratives on the social role of humor in Turkey coincide with the two main approaches to humor from the literature; namely the functionalist approach and the conflict approach. Social theories of humor, including superiority, incongruity and relief theories, surfaced in the narrations of humorists, which are influenced by the changing sociopolitical context of the country.


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Citation Formats
M. Eğilmezler Boylan, “Humorists’ narratives on social role of humor in Turkey in a historical perspective,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2015.