“It’s No Joke: The Critical Power of a Laughing Chorus ”
by Olga Kravets
University of London
There is no known time in history, nor known human community without laughter. Yet, marketing paid little attention to laughter as a social phenomenon and a collective consumer (re)action. This research begins to address this neglect by introducing Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of a laughing chorus. I use the notion as a way to understand the publics’ laughter directed at marketing. I contend that this seemingly nihilistic, irresponsible, and discordant laughter is nonetheless an efficacious form of social commentary. Furthermore, I draw on the works of Henri Bergson and Alenka Zupancic to argue that popular laughter involves a distinct mode of critique, which is not premised on discursive deliberation. I conclude with a reflection on theoretical implications and methodological opportunities in taking laughter seriously in marketing and consumer culture studies.