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Multi­discipli­nary & Innovative Courses


Humour and Power in Media Society


Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki


Related Degree Programmes:

Master’s Programme in Global Politics and Communication

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990-1490 EUR Learn more




Joonas Koivukoski

Humour and Power in Media Society

Target students

The course is designed for advanced Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral degree students of social sciences, media and communication studies, journalism, cultural studies, politics, literature, arts, or sociology.


Humour, media and power are intertwined in many different ways. Publicity of politics is more entertaining-oriented than before, and our entertainment deals with politics more explicitly. This course explores how politicians, advertisers, activists, satirists, and we as audiences use humour to make sense of topical issues and our lives. The rising significance of promotional and popular culture, as well as humour scandals and TV satire, are explored in order to provide an overview on politics of humour.

The course offers lectures and workshops to analyse contemporary mediated humour from various perspectives.

Learning objectives

During the course the students will learn the basic concepts and theories for understanding contemporary mediated humour. Through classical theories of humour the student can identify cognitive, linguistic and psychological functions of humour, whereas perspectives of sociology, political science and communication studies provide means to analyse the social functions of mediated humour.

After completing the course the students will be able to analyse complex empirical cases of mediated humours performances and texts. They will understand how particular historical, cultural, political and technological contexts provide frames for humorous texts and their interpretation. The students will also acknowledge the ambiguous nature of humour, its paradoxical consequences and the conflicting interpretations it might foster.

Team work, discussions and presentations will allow the students to develop their social skills in a multicultural environment. Presentations and individual work also develop analytical and rhetorical skills needed in academic settings.

Course format and teaching methods

Pre-course assignment, lectures, group works and discussions

Means and criteria of assessment

Grading scale is 1 to 5 based on pre-course assignment (25%), group works and presentations (50%) and learning diary (25%) for bachelor’s and master’s students. Doctoral students will write an essay instead of a learning diary.


Course Schedule

Location: City Centre Campus

Monday August 7, 2017      Arrival in Helsinki

Tuesday August 8, 2017    HSS Opening ceremony & Welcome Party (afternoon)

Wednesday August 9, 2017
10-12 Introduction to the course (Joonas Koivukoski), introduction to the Faculty of Social Sciences and to the discipline of Media and Communication Studies (Hannu Nieminen)
12-13 Lunch
13-15 Pre-assignment discussion (Joonas Koivukoski)
15-16 Socialising

Thursday August 10, 2017
10-12 Lecture: How to study mediated humour? (Joonas Koivukoski, University of Helsinki)
12-13 Lunch
13-15 Group work 1

Friday August 11, 2017
10-12 Lecture: Content and reception of the satirical Autocrats – Political humour in the Finnish public sphere (Marjo Kolehmainen, University of Tampere)
12-13 Lunch
13-15 Group work 1

Monday August 14, 2017
10-12 Lecture: Humour and journalism (Janne Zareff, University of Jyväskylä)
12-13 Lunch
13-15 Presentations of group work 1 and discussion

Tuesday August 15, 2017
10-12 Lecture: TV news satire (Joonas Koivukoski, University of Helsinki)
12-13 Lunch
13- Visit: Yle (Finnish Public Broadcasting Company): Ethics and practices of comedy production

Wednesday August 16, 2017
10-12 Lecture: Humour in marketing and branding (Eeva-Liisa Oikarinen, University of Oulu)
12-13 Lunch
13-15 Group work 2

Thursday August 17, 2017
10-12 Lecture: Laughing at gender in popular culture (Outi Hakola, University of Helsinki)
12-13 Lunch
13-15 Group work 2

Friday August 18, 2017
10-12 Lecture: Cultural jamming and adbusting (Aino Koskenniemi, University of Helsinki)
12-13 Lunch
13-15 Group work 2

Monday August 21, 2017
10-12 Lecture: Humour and activism – Communicative organisation of an online social movement group Loldiers of Odin (Salla-Maaria Laaksonen, University of Helsinki)
12-13 Lunch
13-15 Group work 2

Tuesday August 22, 2017
10-12 Lecture: Visual humour as response to Charlie Hebdo attacks (Johanna Sumiala, University of Helsinki)
12-13 Lunch
13:30 Excursion

Wednesday August 23, 2017
10-11 Online student feedback
11-12 Lunch
12-14 Lecture: Multicultural programming and humour (Mikko Malmberg, University of Helsinki)
14-16 Presentations of group work 2

Thursday 24, 2017
10-12 Presentations of group work 2
12-13 Lunch
13-16 Farewell party


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