Essay on Sociology and Stigma

Submitted By fnusrat2
Words: 429
Pages: 2

Stigma and the Politics of Visible/Invisible Disabilities

SOSC 3920 6.0 Disability and Society
September 29, 2014

Goffman and Stigma
• Erving Goffman (1963) Stigma: Notes on the
Management of Spoiled Identity
• Canadian-born sociologist (1922-1982)
• Asylums (1961)
• Stigma → autobiographies and case studies to analyze stigmatized persons’ experiences of being marginalized
(people with physical and mental impairments, drug addicts, prostitutes, etc.) → persons not considered

Stigma stigma = a trait or characteristic that is constructed as “undesirable”
• is established as undesirable through process of stigmatization • Is built upon notion of difference → casting some qualities or traits as desired (superior) and others as undesirable
• operates through stereotypes → Cameron (ch. 46) → “vivid but simple representations that reduce individuals/groups to a set of exaggerated and generally negative characteristics”
• forms basis and rationalization for discrimination

Three Types of Stigma
• character traits
– “deviation” from what is generally viewed as
“normal” behavioural traits

• physical
– visible physical differences/deformities

• group identity
– particular race, nation, religion, etc.

• stigma is used to organize and construct social relations (power) → establishes an individual’s or group’s place in social hierarchy
• traits viewed as “desirable”/superior associated with those who hold status and power in a particular context or society → while “undesirable” traits linked with individuals/groups that are deemed “inferior” and who are then subordinated and marginalized based on their supposed “inferiority”
• Brown (ch. 11 in Davis) → stigma = “powerful and pernicious social tool” that operates dialectically to simultaneously privilege one set of traits or a group while denigrating its opposite → “two sides of same coin”
• stigmatized people are needed in order for non-stigmatized to feel good and positive about themselves

Goffman and Stigma
• stigma = a modern form of branding or “marking” → establishes a “spoiled identity” that discredits by separating