Humor As a Means of Manipulating a Social Group’s Opinion in Modern Online Communities (A Case-Study on ‘the Houses of’ 2ch and Pikabu)


The Internet is a communication space where newly formed communities are searching for ways to reflect on their social nature. We provide a theoretical framework to demonstrate how humor was used to manipulate social groups before and after the emergence of the media. We use Critical Discourse Analysis and pragmatics to study several cases of social manipulation through humor. The two Internet communities, 2ch and Pikabu, being among the largest Russian-speaking entertainment communities, often compete and use humor as a way to manipulate their representatives for social purposes: to consolidate, fight back, reflect on the norms and values of their community. Our research shows that these communities follow the old traditions of humor and laughter in order to organize a poorly regulated information space. Although 2chers tend to use trolling more often, there is no general difference between these communities in the way they use humor to manipulate their social group.

Keywords: humor, laughter, Internet, social cognition, Critical Discourse Analysis, pragmatics, speech act

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