Rhetoric of derisive laughter in political debates on the EU

2019-04-10T14:21:51Z (GMT) by Mirko A. Demasi Cristian Tileaga
This paper focuses on the argumentative role of derisive laughter in broadcast political debates. Using Discursive Psychology (DP) we analyse how politicians use derisive laughter as an argumentative resource in multi-party interactions, in the form of debates about the UK and the European Union. Specifically, we explore how both pro- and anti-EU politicians use derisive laughter to manage issues of who-knows-what and who-knows-better. We demonstrate the uses of derisive laughter by focusing on two discrete, yet pervasive, interactional phenomena in our data – extended laughter sequences and snorts. We argue that in the context of political debates derisive laughter does more than signal trouble and communicate contempt; it is, more than often, mobilized in the service of ideological argumentation and used as a form of challenge to factual claims.