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Douglas Ayling

Even despite this methodological issue and cognisant of the relatively small size of

the 1978 Soviet Russia source, it is nonetheless illuminating to note the similarity between

the distribution of types of joke collected in 1978 in the USSR as compared with the jokes

(non-Jewish) collected from the USSR in 1988, a decade later (figures 4.1 and 5.2). The

proportions are very similar (with ideology and regime seeing only one percent increases),

but the number of jokes relating to the state has doubled in the decade between 1978 and

1988. If such a trend could be found more generally to be corroborated, it could be

interpreted as a reflection of growing impatience with the functioning of the state, the state

getting worse at delivery, or rising expectations.

Further Research

The system of categorising jokes according to whether they speak primarily to the

state, regime or ideology is a blunt instrument, but has proven to be broadly workable.

Future research could instead categorise political jokes according to which dimension they

properly relate to of Linz and Stepan’s four dimensions of pluralism, ideology, mobilization

page 40

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