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Humor, Collective Identity, and Framing in the New Atheist Movement

Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change

ISBN: 978-1-78560-359-4, eISBN: 978-1-78560-358-7

Publication date: 1 September 2015


In this paper, we demonstrate the linkages between humor and political and cultural opportunities and present an analysis of the importance of humor for collective identity and framing in the New Atheist Movement, a social movement focused on reducing the social stigma of atheism and enforcing the separation of church and state. Drawing on a qualitative analysis of interview, ethnographic, and web-based data, we show why the New Atheist Movement is able to use humor effectively in the political and cultural environment. We further demonstrate that humor is central to the development and maintenance of collective identity and to the framing strategies used by the New Atheist Movement. Through a diverse range of forms, including jokes, mockery, and satire, humor is a form of resistance and also can be harnessed to support the goals of social movements. We use this case study as a basic for advocating for greater attention to humor within social movement studies, and greater attention to social movements in humor studies.



Guenther, K.M., Radojcic, N. and Mulligan, K. (2015), "Humor, Collective Identity, and Framing in the New Atheist Movement", Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change (Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Vol. 38), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 203-227.



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