Humor and sexual orientation discrimination in organizational context

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Hélio Arthur Reis Irigaray
Luiz Alex Silva Saraiva
Alexandre de Pádua Carrieri


To deal with multiple social manifestations in the organizational world, humor is an important form of communicating something, although not in an explicit way, smoothing critics and aggressions under the pretext of getting a laugh. In this paper we discuss humor as a form of manifesting discrimination of sexual orientation in the work place. Based on specialized literature about social, denotative and connotative functions of humor, and the insertion of female and male homosexuals in a professional atmosphere, we conducted a qualitative study with heterosexual and homosexual workers in companies located in the metropolitan regions of the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo from 2005 through 2008 to obtain their life stories. The interviews were recorded and fully transcribed. They were then subjected to a French discourse analysis technique. The main results suggest that heterosexual humor about gays is explicit, and it seems to be socially legitimated because gays are funny. We also found surprising evidence that gays make jokes about themselves, confirming social stigma through laughs. The main conclusions discuss the need to put humor in a political context, as a form of communication in organizations, because one of its social functions is to aid the social processes of controlling and social discrimination.


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Irigaray, H. A. R., Saraiva, L. A. S., & Carrieri, A. de P. (1). Humor and sexual orientation discrimination in organizational context. Journal of Contemporary Administration, 14(5), 890-906.