Why do Miami residents use humor in the face of impending threat, such as when hurricane warnings are issued? Existing scholarship highlights four viable answers to this question, including to provide psychosocial resources to cope with the pending disaster; to build solidarity and a collective identity in the face of a pending disaster; to make sense of a seemingly senseless event; and to reaffirm deeply held societal values. Combining in-depth interview data collected from, 16 Miami-Dade residents with a content analysis of Miami-related Instagram accounts and Twitter hashtags, I examine how social class and neighborhood experiences impact residents’ use of humor and coping strategies. Findings reveal five major themes that encompassed the impact of social class and neighborhood context on Miami residents’ humorous attitudes. Denial, international impact, Miami culture and pride, and social media’s evolution all come together to shape the attitudes mainland Miami and Miami Beach residents hold as they cope with Hurricane Dorian, Irma, and Matthew. Upper class residents in all neighborhoods use humor less frequently than their lower- and middle-class counterparts because they are actively aware of their privilege in recovery and preparation. Miami Beach residents, in particular, use less humor to cope because of their experience with harsher environmental consequences than mainland Miami residents. By discussing what prompts Miami residents to use humor as a coping mechanism, I highlight the less studied societal impact of natural disasters on coastal cities during the pre-crisis time period.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Matthew Grace, Stephen Ellingson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.