"We laugh at the world around us" : the folklore of a young male friendship group

Hart, Susan M. (1986) "We laugh at the world around us" : the folklore of a young male friendship group. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

A basic tenet of folkloristics is that the folk group is the centre for the creation, adaptation and dissemination of folklore. Analysis of different kinds of folk groups yields a deeper understanding of the processes and patterns of folklore. Although the friendship-based group is one of the most pervasive and highly valued groups in our society today, folklorists have neglected it. A search of the literature reveals that anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists, but not folklorists, have written extensively about friendship. Yet our discipline could certainly enhance understanding of the friendship bond, friendship groups, and their expressive behaviour with its own perspective and approach. This thesis is intended to show that traditional and conventional expressive behaviour is vital to the identity of the friendship group, and that the friendship group is a significant source of folklore. -- This study has four research objectives. The formation of the identity of the study group, which is the focus of the first objective, is analysed not only from the perspective of the folklore of the group but also with consideration of its history and the relationships amongst its members. The two main themes of this friendship group's folklore are fantasy and competition. The second purpose is to discover how a friendship group established its identity. In the case of the group under consideration, the creation and maintenance of a distinctive folklore, particularly humour, is the central means to this end. This folklore is concentrated in four areas: conversational genres, including personal experience narratives, wordplay, quotations, boasts and taunts set in the context of various conversational styles; humour, in the form of situational joking and in-jokes; the transformation of mass-mediated culture into small group folklore, most notably recorded music, paperback science fiction and fantasy novels, and movies and television; and games, being war-games and fantasy role-playing games. The third research objective is to determine how the factor of all-male membership influences group folklore and identity. Masculine culture has been so taken for granted by most scholars that it has seldom been the focus for study, and even then the approach has rarely been satisfactorily rigorous. Competitiveness, as mentioned above, is the element of male culture most strongly evidenced in this group, but other elements such as an orientation to success and avoidance of emotional expressiveness, are also to be found, always in distinctive folkloric patterns. The final research objective concerns the manner in which a group transforms the products of mass-mediated culture into items of in-group folklore. No modern, urban folk group is unaffected by the mass media, but this does not destroy its folklore; rather, the content of such media is incorporated into the group's folklore and transformed in the process. This group, as indicated above, chooses certain areas of popular culture appropriate to its' members age and leisure orientation.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5513
Item ID: 5513
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 259-275.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1986
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Friendship; Small groups--Folklore; Young men--Social life and customs; Joking relationships

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