Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Ethnic Studies
In reading Alan Spector's paper, I was reminded of British sociologist Christie Davies' cross-national analysis of ethnic jokes. In it, she argues that majority members of a society stereotype others in order to reduce their own anxiety about social position. Davies found that such jokes tend to fall into either one of two catagories [categories]. The first and most common type of ethnic joke addresses those groups who live below one's own station in life. By referring to them, one can elevate his/her own status and hence feel a bit more secure. A second type of joke ridicules groups who appear to be especially successful. By showing overachieving groups in a negative light, the average member of society can feel a bit better about his/her own lack of achievement. The "superachievers" are depicted as so inhuman, immoral, work-driven or tight-fisted that their acccomplishments[accomplishments] are pointless. Spector's paper draws important parallels between the experience of Asians and Jews, two groups most often depicted as "negative successes" in popular stereotypes.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1989