Monday, October 28, 2013

URSP Student Brittany Owen Examines the Sociological Factors that Contribute to the Use of Racial and Ethnic Humor in College Students

     Racial and ethnic humor has always been fascinating to me as it is a microinteraction that can carry so much weight – either as light or disparaging humor. People often claim that humor is in the eye of the beholder, and while this may be true, humor has been shown to reinforce stereotypes and create a norm for prejudice to be released . Humor also has a great deal of potential to harm the butt of the joke. So, when is a joke “just a joke”? 

      On a weekly basis, my schedule varies quite a bit. I am taking both Honors in Sociology and UNIV 495, so my project counts as 6 credits – and has a workload to match. The past few weeks, I have been preparing IRB documents, contacting different schools’ offices, and allotting funding for supplies and stipends – a lot of administrative stuff. Once I have IRB approval, I will start my focus groups, analyze the data, and apply it to a survey questionnaire I’ll be piloting in the winter. 

      I’ve discovered this week how much work goes on behind the scenes of a project. In a published paper, you don’t read about the hours and hours someone spent connecting contacts from different offices, allotting funding, or training co-facilitators. It may sound corny, but I’ve also found that collaborating can be a rich and rewarding experience – other people can be your best sounding board and support system. 

     Next year I will be applying to PhD programs in Sociology and possibly Economics across the country. I am interested in a wide variety of topics across social life, but so far cultural studies, such as humor transactions, have a special place in my heart – and my funny bone.