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South Africa Laughs At Covid : A Functional Perspective on Political Humour in Social Media

Title data

Turner, Irina ; Sijadu, Zameka ; Rudwick, Stephanie:
South Africa Laughs At Covid : A Functional Perspective on Political Humour in Social Media.
In: African Journal of Rhetoric. Vol. 15 (2023) Issue 1 . - pp. 375-405.
ISSN 1998-2054

Official URL: Volltext

Abstract in another language

Multilingual, political communication during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa (Rudwick et al. 2021) elicited a great variety of responses on social media. This paper focuses on humorous engagements by politicians and the public with official government health and crisis communication on sites where these were streamed. After outlining rhetorical commonplaces (topoi) invoking humour and their specific functions such as relief, incongruity, superiority, enforcement, subversion, and concealed hate speech, we apply discourse analysis to selected social media examples of humorous government communication and their reception on social media. The focus lies on two prominent themes during the pandemic unfolding in 2020/2021: the South African alcohol ban and the vaccine rollout/roll-back. The comments range from deploying humour to cope with anxiety caused by the pandemic uncertainty to racially charged malicious statements about politicians or certain vulnerable social groups. Humour is thus a double-edged sword in communication.1 We conclude that humour plays a vital role in critical moments of political communication, but its easing effect tends to fade with the duration of a crisis.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Chair African Studies I
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 000 Computer Science, information, general works > 070 News media, journalism and publishing
300 Social sciences > 320 Political science
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 490 Other languages
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2023 09:14
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2023 09:14