When ethnic humor goes digital

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This article explores new forms of ethnic humor as emergent in a salient arena of contemporary culture: our electronic mailboxes. We argue that two processes underpin the manifestations of ethnic humor as it ‘goes online’: the global turn and the turn to genre plurality. We examine the implications of these processes through (1) content analysis of 1000 Israeli humorous ‘forwards’ and (2) a grounded analysis of 130 texts representing ethnic groups with varying degrees of proximity to Israeli culture. Regarding the global turn, we found that non-local ethnicities are ‘imported’ to the local symbolic sphere via new forms of humor. Regarding the turn to genre plurality, results indicate that while old forms of ethnic humor typically include explicit stereotyping, new forms introduce a wider variety of stances towards ethnic stereotypes, ranging from their reproduction in visual language to a polysemic stance, and finally to their neutralization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)520-539
Number of pages20
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 19 Apr 2015


  • Ethnic humor
  • Israel
  • forwards
  • globalization
  • internet

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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