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The Function of Humor in Zinacantan

Victoria Reifler Bricker
Journal of Anthropological Research
Vol. 36, No. 4 (Winter, 1980), pp. 411-418
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629610
Page Count: 8
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The Function of Humor in Zinacantan
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Abstract

Zinacantecos have their own functional explanations for humor, several of which are remarkably similar to the etic explanations of social anthropologists. There is also evidence that their use of humor is motivated to some extent by the functions they think it serves. For example, Zinacantecos believe that ridicule has the function of deterring people from violating norms, and they deliberately employ ridicule as a weapon to punish malefactors and make an example of them to the rest of the community. They also use joking in socially ambiguous situations to put people at ease. The emic interpretations of Zinacantecos represent native theories about the social significance of humor which can be used to evaluate the functional inferences of social anthropologists.

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