"I should be lucky ha ha ha ha": The construction of power, identity and gender through laughter within medical workplace learning encounters

Charlotte E. Rees, Lynn V. Monrouxe

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    38 Citations (Scopus)


    Laughter is employed in social interaction to construct meaning, identities, and relationships. Although studies have begun to examine humour within the medical workplace, none have employed observational methods to study laughables/laughter within the learning triad of the bedside teaching encounter (BTE). This paper focuses on this gap by exploring the novel question: How do students, patients, and doctors construct and co-construct power, identity and gender through laughter within BTEs? In this paper, we focus on the disaffiliative function of laughables/laughter across BTEs. Most of the laughables presented can be construed as teases: fallibility, frustration, cynicism and/or sexual teasing; and this teasing was accompanied by a competitive rather than collaborative play frame. Teasing and laughter was employed by participants to maintain or subvert existing power asymmetries, to construct identities, for example, as individuals who are intelligent, witty and powerful, and to construct gender by performing masculinity or femininity. Further research with a larger and more diverse sample of participants (including more female doctors, male students and female patients) is now essential to explore more fully the co-construction of power, identities and gender through laughter within medical workplace learning encounters. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3384-3399
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Pragmatics
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


    • Laughter
    • Power
    • Identity
    • Gender
    • Student-doctor-patient relationship
    • Medical workplace learning
    • JOKING
    • TALK
    • CARE

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