Stand-Up Comedy and Social Justice: A Discussion of Freedom of Speech and Inclusive Democracy

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Labun, Samuel




This thesis explores freedom of speech and its capacity to promote individual agency and well-being, relieve the oppression of excluded social groups, and increase understanding and communication across differences in democratic society. The thesis applies the insights of John Stuart Mill, Amartya Sen, and Iris Marion Young to stand-up comedy. The thesis argues that comedians and audiences have a responsibility not to exclude oppressed social groups from comedy and democratic society in general. Open mics fulfill all Young's conditions for inclusive communication, and professional comedians like Robin Tyler, Hannah Gadsby, Dave Chappelle, and Ms. Pat use their comedy to increase communication and understanding across group differences. The thesis concludes that comedy can provide an effective, inclusive, and public opportunity for social groups to voice their needs, concerns, and demands for equal concern and respect, and that comedy can edify the public about their democratic society.






Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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