Sharing a laugh: the role of humour in relationships between police officers and ambulance staff

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Purpose - This paper explores the nature of humour within two different organisations, policing and ambulance work, whuich are linked by their focus on emergency work. Design/methodology/approach - Semi structured interviews with 45 police officers and ambulance staff sought to understand more about the relationships between these two distinctly different professions who work together closely and regularly in often very difficult situations. Findings - Interviews with police officers and ambulance staff revealed that humour is a key component in the working relationship of police officers and ambulance staff. The humour of superiority and the humour of exclusion are used to both cope with the demands of their work, reinforce group values and to strengthen the shared bonds between the two occupations. Originality/value - Humour has been studied within organisations but this paper reveals that humour also functions across occupational divides. Police officers and ambulance staff draw from a mutually acceptable but culturally defined joke-book in the course of their work. The informal forces of humour appear ironically to provide a means of enhanced interoperability between the two organisations but at the expense of other agencies involved within the emergency service field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-166
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology & Social Policy
Issue number3/4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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