Laughter as a factor in the development of national socio-cultural identity of Ukrainian Cossacks




laughter, social functions of laughter, Ukrainian Cossackdom, marginality, liminal community, "boundary situation", "borderline being", trickster myth, national sociocultural identity, the Ukrainian national character, mentality


The article defines preconditions, causes, and mechanisms of laughter functioning and elucidates consequences of its activation as an influential factor in the formation of national cultural and social identity of Ukrainian Cossacks. It is proved that being engraved in the Cossacks' identity, their propensity to cheerful disposition, audacious sense of humour, and life-affirming laughter acquired the status of distinguishing features of Ukrainian national character. They become especially topical in crisis and transition conditions of sociocultural development.

The work ascertains that the Zaporozhian Cossacks became the exponent of Ukrainian spirit because in transition times of history, only such a liminal community could represent our people whose eternal destiny is to live "at the brink" and "on the edge". National sociocultural identification of the Cossacks is directly linked to conditions of "metaboundary state" or "transition", which are generally accompanied by the revival of trickster myths and marked by the proliferation of carnavalized actions, antibehavior, and comic reaction as a spontaneous, uncontrolled, and unconscious response to multiple challenges of the external environment and their deep inner spiritual world. Laughter acts as a multifunctional and polysemous factor, an unconscious instrument of social and psychological distance whose poles are identification or rejection.

Obtained results testify to controversial sociocultural dynamics of laughter, which can manifest features of chaotized cosmos in crises, not only demonstrating destructive potencies aimed at universal chaotization of society and rejection of established norms and rules but also transforming the chaos into the fertile ground, where a new order is constructed and values of the new cosmos are sacralized despite the threat of critical disaster, nonexistence, and reappraisal of values. Today, when the Ukrainians are at the new stage of their national liberation movement and a sense of perplexity is spreading in them, the Cossacks' identity characterized by specific desire for freedom, truth, social justice, trickster spirit, and rampancy of comic elements is steadily reviving. Greeting principles of laughter are used as a well-tried remedy for self-identity, self-esteem, and struggle against those perceived as enemies.

Author Biography

Olha Maltseva, Pryazovskyi State Technical University

candidate of philosophical sciences, associate professor of the Academic Department of Sociology and Social Work


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How to Cite

Maltseva, O. (2014). Laughter as a factor in the development of national socio-cultural identity of Ukrainian Cossacks. Skhid, (5(131).