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Cover I-PEEL: The International Political Economy of Everyday Life

9. Humour  

This chapter discusses the ambiguous subject of humour in the everyday politics of globalization. It begins by drawing out three related concepts of resistance, carnival, and subversion to reflect on how joking and pranks can critique, but also reproduce, the inequalities and exclusions of market life. The chapter then analyses the ethical, social, and political functions of comedy. Satirical resistance has contributed to seemingly laudable interventions in the sphere of international development, like the Comic Relief fundraiser and the Make Poverty History campaign. Humour therefore seems to carry a productive association with issues of global justice and responsibility. Yet postcolonial scholars, and comedians themselves, have questioned the privileged agency of the white, male, Western comedian typically at the centre of such interventions. Moreover, the widespread circulation of humour and irreverence within the public sphere might even create an opportunity for the ‘weaponization’ of irony by populists and authoritarian states.


Cover I-PEEL: The International Political Economy of Everyday Life

James Brassett, Juanita Elias, Lena Rethel, and Ben Richardson

I-PEEL: The International Political Economy of Everyday Life locates the study of international political economy (IPE) in the context of everyday life. It provides a fresh introduction to IPE, and highlights the relevance and prominence of IPE in the real world. In addition, the text establishes the conceptual and theoretical techniques required to engage with the IPE discipline and how those can help us understand the complexity of everyday power relations. Also, it prompts ethical self-reflection by asking if everyday economic relations are ‘right’ or ‘good’. The text starts off with an introduction to the topic. The first main chapter considers clothes. The next few chapters cover food, debt, and care. After that comes a chapter that looks at the concept of the ‘city’, followed by social media. The last two chapters present the idea of ‘share’ and humour. They are followed by a Conclusion.