The Social Meaning of Racial Humour Among the Police

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: Booth 58
Oral Presentation
Sara UHNOO , Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
This paper explores a controversial side of police culture: the use of ethnicized humour among the police. The empirical material consists of twenty-two interviews made in context of an assessment on the work environment for ethnic minority officers and civilians within a major Swedish police force. The qualitative analysis illustrates how officers and civilians with an ethnic minority background talk about the widespread use of racial humour within the police. On the one hand, they criticize their colleagues for using racist jokes, as it reproduces ethnic stereotypes and tends to position minority officers as ‘outsiders’, but, on the other hand, they contribute to the reproduction of racial jokes and consider it to be an unavoidable, quite unproblematic, part of daily police jargon. Finally, the difficulties of walking the thin line between police jargon and ethnic bullying and the problems that racial humour implies for diversity work within the police are discussed.