Take the first survey below!

Taboos / references / ways of making sense of the world... what can we learn by asking what's so funny

The Global Humor Project expands Freud's argument — that a joke is a window into the unconscious — to explore "unconscious" trends in societies at large. The scale: cross-cultural comparison.

China Teaching.001.jpeg

The Global Humor Project is an interdisciplinary series of surveys, quantitative analysis, and long-term cultural research designed to answer the question: what do (different) people find funny? And then: why? 

Engaging with taboos of all kinds, with pilot research from Shanghai to Ramallah to Connecticut, the Global Humor Project builds on the psychoanalytic contention that "a joke is a window into the unconscious" (Freud, Mary Douglas) and the sociological idea that groups are forged and strengthened through humor.  By analyzing common trends and subtle (or not-so-subtle) differences across cultures, the Global Humor Project seeks to describe the "unconscious" mind of social groups, and then: to understand how those hidden impulses — traced through senses of humor — bubble up in social behavior (e.g. economic, political, religious) of all kinds.

It has often been alleged that one is ‘truly’ a member of a group when one is able to joke easily with other members and able to understand and share the jokes that these others tell. Fine and de Soucey, 2005: "Joking cultures: Humor themes as social regulation in group life."

And: this project contends that one of the most powerful ways to define the boundaries of a group — a group whose membership really means something — is to demarcate groups with shared senses of humor. 

Take the first-wave survey down below, more to follow!

powered by Typeform

Center for Cultural Sociology
Department of Sociology
Yale University
P.O. Box 208265
New Haven, CT 06520-8265