Social stigma
Overview
Social stigma is the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society.

Almost all stigma is based on a person differing from social or cultural norms
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

. Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.The 73rd president of American Sociological Association, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self...

 defined stigma as 'the process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity'.

The three forms of stigma recognised by Goffman include: The experience of a mental illness (or the imposition of such a diagnosis); a physical form of deformity or an undesired differentness; and an association with a particular race, religion, belief, etc.
Encyclopedia
Social stigma is the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society.

Almost all stigma is based on a person differing from social or cultural norms
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

. Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.The 73rd president of American Sociological Association, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self...

 defined stigma as 'the process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity'.

The three forms of stigma recognised by Goffman include: The experience of a mental illness (or the imposition of such a diagnosis); a physical form of deformity or an undesired differentness; and an association with a particular race, religion, belief, etc. (Goffman, 1990).

Social stigma can result from the perception or attribution, rightly or wrongly, of Mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

, physical disabilities, diseases such as leprosy
Leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

 (see leprosy stigma
Leprosy stigma
Leprosy stigma is a kind of social stigma, a strong feeling that a leprosy patient is shameful and is not accepted normally in society. Also called leprosy related stigma, leprostigma and stigma of leprosy.-Stigma:...

), illegitimacy, sexual orientation
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation describes a pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attractions to the opposite sex, the same sex, both, or neither, and the genders that accompany them. By the convention of organized researchers, these attractions are subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality,...

, gender identity
Gender identity
A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. Basic gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to...

 skin tone, nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

, ethnicity, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 (or lack of religion) or criminality
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

. Attributes associated with social stigma often vary depending on the geopolitical and corresponding sociopolitical contexts in various parts of the world.

Stigma comes in three forms: Firstly, overt or external deformations, such as scar
Scar
Scars are areas of fibrous tissue that replace normal skin after injury. A scar results from the biological process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues of the body. Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process. With the exception of very minor lesions, every wound results in...

s, physical manifestations of anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Although commonly called "anorexia", that term on its own denotes any symptomatic loss of appetite and is not strictly accurate...

, leprosy
Leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

 (leprosy stigma
Leprosy stigma
Leprosy stigma is a kind of social stigma, a strong feeling that a leprosy patient is shameful and is not accepted normally in society. Also called leprosy related stigma, leprostigma and stigma of leprosy.-Stigma:...

), or of a physical disability
Physical disability
A physical disability is any impairment which limits the physical function of one or more limbs or fine or gross motor ability. Other physical disabilities include impairments which limit other facets of daily living, such as respiratory disorders and epilepsy....

 or social disability, such as obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

. Secondly, deviations in personal traits, including mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

, drug addiction, alcoholism
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...

, and criminal backgrounds are stigmatized in this way. Thirdly, "tribal stigmas" are traits, imagined or real, of ethnic groups, nationalities, or religions that are deemed to constitute a deviation from what is perceived to be the prevailing normative ethnicity, nationality or religion.

Empirical research
Empirical research
Empirical research is a way of gaining knowledge by means of direct and indirect observation or experience. Empirical evidence can be analyzed quantitatively or qualitatively...

 of stigma associated with mental disorders pointed to a surprising attitude of the general public. Those who were told that mental disorders had a genetic basis were more prone to increase their social distance
Social distance
Social distance describes the distance between different groups of society and is opposed to locational distance. The notion includes all differences such as social class, race/ethnicity or sexuality, but also the fact that the different groups do not mix...

 from the mentally ill, and also assume that the ill were dangerous individuals in contrast with those members of the general public who were told that the illnesses could be explained by social and environment factors. Furthermore, those informed of the genetic basis are also more likely to stigmatize the entire family of the ill. Although the specific social categories that become stigmatized can vary across times and places, the three basic forms of stigma (physical deformity, poor personal traits, and tribal outgroup status) are found in most cultures and time periods, leading some researchers to hypothesize that the tendency to stigmatize may have evolutionary roots.

Etymology of the word stigma

Stigma is a Greek word that in its origins referred to a kind of tattoo mark that was cut or burned into the skin of criminals, slaves, or traitors in order to visibly identify them as blemished or morally polluted persons. These individuals were to be avoided or shunned, particularly in public places (Healthline Network Inc., 2007).

Link and Phelan stigmatization model

Bruce Link and Jo Phelan propose that stigma exists when four specific components converge:
  1. Individuals differentiate and label
    Labelling
    Labelling or labeling is describing someone or something in a word or short phrase. For example, describing someone who has broken a law as a criminal. Labelling theory is a theory in sociology which ascribes labelling of people to control and identification of deviant behavior.It has been argued...

     human variations.
  2. Prevailing cultural beliefs tie those labeled to adverse attributes.
  3. Labeled individuals are placed in distinguished groups that serve to establish a sense of disconnection between "us" and "them".
  4. Labeled individuals experience "status loss and discrimination
    Discrimination
    Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

    " that leads to unequal circumstances.


In this model stigmatization is also contingent on "access to social
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

, economic
Economic power
There is no agreed-upon definition of power in economics. At least five definitions of power have been used:*Purchasing power, i.e., the ability of any amount of money to buy goods and services. Those with more assets, or, more correctly, net worth, have more power of this sort...

, and political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

 that allows the identification of differences, construction of stereotype
Stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

s, the separation of labeled persons into distinct groups, and the full execution of disapproval, rejection
Social rejection
Social rejection occurs when an individual is deliberately excluded from a social relationship or social interaction. The topic includes both interpersonal rejection and romantic rejection. A person can be rejected on an individual basis or by an entire group of people...

, exclusion, and discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

." Subsequently, in this model the term stigma is applied when labeling, stereotyping, disconnection, status loss, and discrimination all exist within a power situation that facilitates stigma to occur.

Differentiation and labeling

Identifying which human differences are salient, and therefore worthy of labeling, is a social process. There are two primary factors to examine when considering the extent to which this process is a social one. The first issue is the fact that significant oversimplification is needed to create groups
Group (sociology)
In the social sciences a social group can be defined as two or more humans who interact with one another, share similar characteristics and collectively have a sense of unity...

. The broad groups of black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 and white
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

, homosexual
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 and heterosexual
Heterosexuality
Heterosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the opposite sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, heterosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, physical or romantic attractions to persons of the opposite sex";...

, the sane
Sanity
Sanity refers to the soundness, rationality and healthiness of the human mind, as opposed to insanity. A person is sane if they are rational...

 and the mentally ill; and young
Youth
Youth is the time of life between childhood and adulthood . Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual's actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age, as immature individuals could exist at all ages.-Usage:Around the world, the terms "youth",...

 and old
Old age
Old age consists of ages nearing or surpassing the average life span of human beings, and thus the end of the human life cycle...

 are all examples of this. Secondly, the differences that are socially judged to be relevant differ vastly according to time and place. An example of this is the emphasis that was put on the size of forehead and faces of individuals in the late 19th century—which was believed to be an indication of a person's degree of criminal nature.

Linking to stereotypes

The second component of this model centers on the linking of labeled differences with stereotype
Stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

s. Goffman's
Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.The 73rd president of American Sociological Association, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self...

 1963 work made this aspect of stigma prominent and it has remained so ever since. This process of applying certain stereotypes to differentiated groups of individuals has garnered a large amount of attention and research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 in recent decades as it helps to understand the psychological nature of the thought process taking place as this linkage occurs.

Us and them

The linking of negative attributes to differentiated groups of individuals described above facilitates a sense of separation between the proverbial "us" and "them". This sense that the individuals of the labeled group are fundamentally different causes stereotyping to take place with little hesitation. The "us" and "them" component of the stigmatization process implies that the labeled group is slightly less human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 in nature, and at the extreme not human at all. It is at this extreme that the most horrific events occur.

Disadvantage

The fourth component of stigmatization in this model includes the "status loss and discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

" that is experienced. Many definitions of stigma do not include this aspect, however it is the belief of these authors that this loss occurs inherently as individuals are "labeled, set apart, and linked to undesirable characteristics." The members of the labeled groups are subsequently disadvantaged in the most common group of life chances
Life chances
Life chances is a political theory of the opportunities each individual has to improve his or her quality of life. The concept was introduced by German sociologist Max Weber. It is a probabilistic concept, describing how likely it is, given certain factors, that an individual's life will turn out...

 including income
Income
Income is the consumption and savings opportunity gained by an entity within a specified time frame, which is generally expressed in monetary terms. However, for households and individuals, "income is the sum of all the wages, salaries, profits, interests payments, rents and other forms of earnings...

, education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, mental well-being
Mental health
Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and...

, housing status, health
Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

, and medical treatment
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

. However, the authors are quick to point out that even though some groups are able to escape some of the disadvantage
Disadvantage
In policy debate, a disadvantage is an argument that a team brings up against a policy action that is being considered.-Structure:...

s listed, the principle
Principle
A principle is a law or rule that has to be, or usually is to be followed, or can be desirably followed, or is an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed...

 is sound when broadly applied.

Necessity of power

The authors also emphasize the necessity of power (social
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

, economic
Economic power
There is no agreed-upon definition of power in economics. At least five definitions of power have been used:*Purchasing power, i.e., the ability of any amount of money to buy goods and services. Those with more assets, or, more correctly, net worth, have more power of this sort...

, and political power
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

) to stigmatize. While the role of power is clear in some situations, in others it can become masked as the power differences are so stark. An extreme example of a situation in which the power role was explicitly clear was the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. On the other hand, an example of a situation in which individuals of a stigmatized group have "stigma-related processes" occurring would be the inmates of a prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

. It is very imaginable that each of the steps described above would take place regarding the inmates' thoughts about the guards. However, this situation cannot involve true stigmatization according to this model because the prisoners do not have the economic, political, or social power to act on these thoughts with any serious discriminatory consequences.

Goffman's theory

In Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.The 73rd president of American Sociological Association, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self...

's theory of social stigma, a stigma is an attribute, behavior, or reputation which is socially discrediting in a particular way: it causes an individual to be mentally classified by others in an undesirable, rejected stereotype
Stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

 rather than in an accepted, normal one. Goffman, a noted sociologist, defined stigma as a special kind of gap between virtual social identity and actual social identity:
Sociologist, Gerhard Falk http://www.jbuff.com/gfal.htm describes stigma based on two categories, Existential Stigma and Achieved Stigma. Falk defines Existential Stigma "as stigma deriving from a condition which the target of the stigma either did not cause or over which he has little control." He defines Achieved Stigma as "stigma that is earned because of conduct and/or because they contributed heavily to attaining the stigma in question." (Falk, 2001).

Stigma may also be described as a label that associates a person to a set of unwanted characteristics that form a stereotype. It is also affixed (Jacoby, 2005). Once people identify and label your differences others will assume that is just how things are and the person will remain stigmatized until the stigmatizing attribute is undetected. A considerable amount of generalization is required to create groups. Meaning you put someone in a general group regardless of how well they actually fit into that group. However, the attributes that society selects differs according to time and place. What is considered out of place in one society is the norm in another. When society categorizes individuals into certain groups the labeled person is subjected to status loss and discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 (Jacoby, 2005). Society will start to form expectations about those groups once the cultural stereotype is secured.

The stigmatized, the normal, and the wise

Goffman divides the individual's relation to a stigma into three categories: the stigmatized are those who bear the stigma; the normals are those who do not bear the stigma; and the wise are those among the normals who are accepted by the stigmatized as "wise" to their condition (borrowing the term from the homosexual community). The wise normals are not merely those who are in some sense accepting of the stigma; they are, rather, "those whose special situation has made them intimately privy to the secret life of the stigmatized individual and sympathetic with it, and who find themselves accorded a measure of acceptance, a measure of courtesy membership in the clan." That is, they are accepted by the stigmatized as "honorary members" of the stigmatized group. "Wise persons are the marginal men before whom the individual with a fault need feel no shame nor exert self-control, knowing that in spite of his failing he will be seen as an ordinary other." Goffman notes that the wise may in certain social situations also bear the stigma with respect to other normals: that is, they may also be stigmatized for being wise. An example is a parent of a homosexual; another is a white woman who is seen socializing with a black man. (Limiting ourselves, of course, to social milieus in which homosexuals and blacks are stigmatized).

The Six Dimensions of Stigma

While often incorrectly attributed to Goffman the "Six Dimensions of Stigma" were not his invention. They were developed to augment Goffman's two levels - the discredited and the discreditable. Goffman considered individuals whose stigmatizing attributes are not immediately evident. In that case, the individual can encounter two distinct social atmospheres. In the first, he is discreditable--his stigma has yet to be revealed, but may be revealed either intentionally by him (in which case he will have some control over how) or by some factor he cannot control. Of course, it also might be successfully concealed; Goffman called this passing. In this situation, the analysis of stigma is concerned only with the behaviors adopted by the stigmatized individual to manage his identity: the concealing and revealing of information. In the second, he is discredited--his stigma has been revealed and thus it affects not only his behavior but the behavior of others. Jones et al. (1984) added the "six dimensions" and correlate them to Goffman's two types of stigma, discredited and discreditable:

There are six dimensions that match these two types of stigma:
  1. Concealable- extent to which others can see the stigma.
  2. Course of the mark- whether the stigma becomes more prominent over time.
  3. Disruptiveness- the degree to which the stigma get in the way of social interactions.
  4. Aesthetics
    Aesthetics
    Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

    - other’s reactions to the stigma.
  5. Origin- whether others think the stigma is present at birth, accidental, or deliberate.
  6. Peril- the apparent danger of the stigma to others.


(Jones, et al., 1984, often incorrectly attributed to Jacoby, 2005 who was citing Jones, et al.)

Types of Stigma

In Unraveling the Contexts of Stigma, authors Campbell and Deacon describe Goffman's universal and historical forms of Stigma as the following.
  • Overt or External Deformities - such as leprosy
    Leprosy
    Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

    , clubfoot, cleft lip or palate and muscular dystrophy
    Muscular dystrophy
    Muscular dystrophy is a group of muscle diseases that weaken the musculoskeletal system and hamper locomotion. Muscular dystrophies are characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, defects in muscle proteins, and the death of muscle cells and tissue.In the 1860s, descriptions of boys who...

    .
  • Known Deviations in Personal Traits - being perceived rightly or wrongly, as weak willed, domineering or having unnatural passions, treacherous and rigid beliefs, and being dishonest, e.g., mental disorders, imprisonment, addiction, homosexuality, unemployment, suicidal attempts and radical political behavior.
  • Tribal stigma - affiliation with a specific nationality
    Nationality
    Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

    , religion
    Religion
    Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

    , or race that constitute a deviation from the normative, i.e. being African American
    African American
    African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

     or being of Arab
    Arab
    Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

     descent in the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

     after the 9/11 attacks (Campbell & Deacon, 2006).

Deviance

Stigma occurs when an individual is identified as deviant, linked with negative stereotype
Stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

s that engender prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

d attitudes, which are acted upon in discriminatory behavior. Goffman illuminated how stigmatized people manage their "Spoiled identity" (meaning the stigma disqualifies the stigmatized individual from full social acceptance) before audiences of normals. He focused on stigma not as a fixed or inherent attribute of a person but rather on the experience and meaning of difference (Shaw, 1991).

Gerhard Falk expounds upon Goffman's work by redefining deviant as "others who deviate from the expectations of a group" and categorizing deviance into two types:
  • Societal Deviance refers to a condition widely perceived, in advance and in general, as being deviant and hence stigma and stigmatized. "Homosexuality is therefore an example of societal deviance because there is such a high degree of consensus to the effect that homosexuality is different, and a violation of norms or social expectation" (Falk, 2001).

  • Situational Deviance refers to a deviant act that is labeled as deviant in a specific situation, and may not be labeled deviant by society. Similarly, a socially deviant action might not be considered deviant in specific situations. "A robber or other street criminal is an excellent example. It is the crime which leads to the stigma and stigmatization of the person so affected."


The physically disabled, mentally ill, homosexuals, and a host of others who are labeled deviant because they deviate from the expectations of a group, are subject to stigmatization- the social rejection
Social rejection
Social rejection occurs when an individual is deliberately excluded from a social relationship or social interaction. The topic includes both interpersonal rejection and romantic rejection. A person can be rejected on an individual basis or by an entire group of people...

 of numerous individual, and often entire groups of people who have been labeled deviant.

Ethical considerations

Goffman emphasizes the fact that the stigma relationship is one between an individual and a social setting with a given set of expectations; thus, everyone at different times will play both roles of stigmatized and stigmatizer (or, as he puts it, "normal"). Goffman gives the example that "some jobs in America cause holders without the expected college education to conceal this fact; other jobs, however, can lead to the few of their holders who have a higher education to keep this a secret, lest they be marked as failures and outsiders. Similarly, a middle class boy may feel no compunction in being seen going to the library; a professional criminal, however, writes [about keeping his library visits secret]." He also gives the example of blacks being stigmatized among whites, and whites being stigmatized among blacks (note that this work was written during racial segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

).

Falk concludes that "...we and all societies will always stigmatize some condition and some behavior because doing so provides for group solidarity by delineating 'outsiders' from 'insiders'" (Falk, 2001). Stigmatization, at its essence is a challenge to one's humanity- for both the stigmatized person and the stigmatizer. The majority of stigma researchers have found the process of stigmatization has a long history and is cross-culturally ubiquitous (Heatherton, et al., 2000).

Individuals actively cope with stigma in ways that vary across stigmatized groups, across individuals within stigmatized groups, and within individuals across time and situations (Levin & van Laar, 2004).

The Stigmatized

The stigmatized are ostracized, devalued, rejected, scorned and shunned. They experience discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

, insults, attacks and are even murdered. Those who perceive themselves to be members of a stigmatized group, whether it is obvious to those around them or not, often experience psychological distress and many view themselves contemptuously (Heatherton, et al., 2000).

Although the experience of being stigmatized may take a toll on self-esteem, academic achievement, and other outcomes, many people with stigmatized attributes have high self-esteem, perform at high levels, are happy and appear to be quite resilient to their negative experiences (Heatherton, et al., 2000).

There are also "positive stigma": you may indeed be too thin, too rich, or too smart. This is noted by Goffman (1963:141) in his discussion of leaders who are subsequently given licence to deviate from some behavioral norms because they have contributed far above the expectations of the group.

The Stigmatizer

From the perspective of the stigmatizer, stigmatization involves dehumanization, threat, aversion and sometimes the depersonalization of others into stereotypic caricatures. Stigmatizing others can serve several functions for an individual, including self-esteem
Self-esteem
Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame: some would distinguish how 'the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the...

 enhancement, control enhancement, and anxiety buffering, through downward-comparison- comparing oneself to less fortunate others can increase one's own subjective sense of well-being and therefore boost one's self-esteem. (Heatherton, et al., 2000).

21st century social psychologists consider stigmatizing and stereotyping to be a normal consequence of people's cognitive abilities and limitations, and of the social information and experiences to which they are exposed (Heatherton, et al., 2000).


Current views of stigma, from the perspectives of both the stigmatizer and the stigmatized person, consider the process of stigma to be highly situationally specific, dynamic, complex and nonpathological (Heatherton, et al., 2000).

Current Research on Self-Esteem

Members of stigmatized groups should have lower self-esteem
Self-esteem
Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame: some would distinguish how 'the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the...

 than those of nonstigmatized groups. A test could not be taken on the overall self-esteem of different races. Researchers would have to take into account whether these people are optimistic or pessimistic, whether they are male or female and what kind of place they grew up in.
Over the last two decades, many studies have reported that African Americans show higher global self-esteem than whites even though, as a group, African Americans tend to receive poorer outcomes in many areas of life and experience significant discrimination and stigma.

Correlations between self-esteem and achievement tests:
8th grade 10th grade
African American:
Male: .235 .192
Female: .152 .159
European American:
Male: .140 .165
Female: .163 .166
Correlations between self-esteem and GPA:
8th grade 10th grade
African American:
Male: .206 .081
Female: .260 .207
European American:
Male: .227 .241
Female: .279 .269



Average weight women have higher self-esteem than overweight women. Overweight women who are older have lower levels of collective self-esteem on an implicit measure but have equivalent levels of personal self-esteem on both implicit and explicit measures.

The US Department of Health, Education and Welfare determined that including the 24% of women who are actually obese, 60% of adolescent women believe they are overweight. Recent studies have shown that women who are "unattractive" or obese do not believe they will make a good impression on the men they come into contact with which makes the men feel the women are uncomfortable and uninterested in them. The women of average weight felt better about the impression they would make on the men and in return the men felt the women were interested in them and enjoyed their company.

This test showed how obese or overweight women have low self-esteem. Obese women and overweight women feel uncomfortable and aren't very social which makes the people they come into contact with uninterested and uncomfortable. The more overweight the woman is, the lower her self-esteem tends to be.

Current Research Directions of Stigma

Research undertaken to determine effects of social stigma primarily focuses on disease-associated stigmas. Disabilities, psychiatric disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases are among the diseases currently scrutinized by researchers. In studies involving such diseases, both positive and negative effects of social stigma have been discovered.

Epilepsy
Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

, a common neurological disorder
Neurological disorder
A neurological disorder is a disorder of the body's nervous system. Structural, biochemical or electrical abnormalities in the brain, spinal cord, or in the nerves leading to or from them, can result in symptoms such as paralysis, muscle weakness, poor coordination, loss of sensation, seizures,...

 characterised by recurring seizure
Seizure
An epileptic seizure, occasionally referred to as a fit, is defined as a transient symptom of "abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain". The outward effect can be as dramatic as a wild thrashing movement or as mild as a brief loss of awareness...

s, is associated with various social stigmas. Chung-yan Gardian Fong and Anchor Hung conducted a study in Hong Kong which documented public attitudes towards individuals with epilepsy. Of the 1,128 subjects interviewed, only 72.5% of them considered pregnancy to be appropriate; 11.2% would not let their children play with others with epilepsy; 32.2% would not allow their children to marry persons with epilepsy; additionally, employers (22.5% of them) would terminate an employment contract after an epileptic seizure occurred in an employee with unreported epilepsy (Fong, Hung, 2002). Suggestions were made that more effort be made to improve public awareness of, attitude toward, and understanding of epilepsy through school education and epilepsy-related organizations (Fong, Hung, 2002).

In Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, strengthening the psychiatric rehabilitation system has been one of the primary goals of the Department of Health since 1985. Unfortunately, this endeavor has not been successful and it is believed that one of the barriers is social stigma towards the mentally ill (Yu Song, Yun Chang, Yi Shih, Yuan Lin, Jeng Yang, 2005). Accordingly, a study was conducted to explore the attitudes of the general population towards patients with mental disorders. A survey method was utilized on 1,203 subjects nationally. The results revealed that the general population held higher levels of benevolence, tolerance on rehabilitation in the community, and nonsocial restrictiveness (Yu Song, Yun Chang, Yi Shih, Yuan Lin, Jeng Yang, 2005). Essentially, benevolent thoughts were fostering the acceptance of rehabilitation in the community. It could then be inferred that the belief (held by the residents of Taiwan) of treating the mentally ill with high regard, somewhat eliminated the stigma (Yu Song, Yun Chang, Yi Shih, Yuan Lin, Jeng Yang, 2005).

The impact of HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

-related stigma on care and prevention of HIV, as studies show, is significant. A self-reported study evaluated the effects of concerns attributed to this stigma. The sample size for this study consisted of 204 people living with HIV. Participants with high HIV concerns proved to be 3.3 times more likely to be non-adherent to their medication regimen than those with low concerns (Reece, Tanner, Karpiak, Coffey, 2007). Moreover, this study revealed that the threat of social stigma prevents people living with HIV from revealing their status to others (causing obvious health concerns for society). Clinical care directed to individuals living with HIV, researchers believed, should include considerations for patient sensitivity to social stigma (Reece, Tanner, Karpiak, Coffey, 2007).

The aforementioned stigmas (associated with their respective diseases) propose effects that these stereotypes have on individuals. Whether effects be negative or positive in nature, 'labeling' people causes a significant change in individual perception (of persons with disease). Perhaps a mutual understanding of stigma, achieved through education, could eliminate social stigma entirely.

Social stigmas can occur in many different forms. The most common deals with culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

, gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

, race and disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

s. Many people who have been stigmatized feel as if they are transforming from a whole person to a tainted one. They feel different and devalued by others. This can happen in the workplace, education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

al settings, health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

, the criminal justice system, and even in their own family
Family
In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

. For an example, the parents of overweight women are less likely to pay for their daughters' college education than are the parents of average-weight women (Major, O'Brien; 2005).

Many people who are stigmatized are affected by social categorization, which is considering people primarily as members of social groups rather than as individual
Individual
An individual is a person or any specific object or thing in a collection. Individuality is the state or quality of being an individual; a person separate from other persons and possessing his or her own needs, goals, and desires. Being self expressive...

s (Blaine 21).

Stigma may affect the behavior
Behavior
Behavior or behaviour refers to the actions and mannerisms made by organisms, systems, or artificial entities in conjunction with its environment, which includes the other systems or organisms around as well as the physical environment...

 of those who are stigmatised. Those who are stereotype
Stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

d often start to act in ways that their stigmatisers expect of them. It not only changes their behavior, but it also shapes their emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

s and belief
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

s (Major, O'Brien; 2005). These stigmas put a person's social identity
Social identity
A social identity is the portion of an individual's self-concept derived from perceived membership in a relevant social group. As originally formulated by Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s and 80s, social identity theory introduced the concept of a social identity as a way in which to...

 in threatening situations, like low self esteem. Because of this, identity theories have become highly researched as of late. Identity threat theories can definitely go hand-in-hand with Labeling Theory
Labeling theory
Labeling theory is closely related to interactionist and social construction theories. Labeling theory was developed by sociologists during the 1960's. Howard Saul Becker's book entitled Outsiders was extremely influential in the development of this theory and its rise to popularity...

.

Members of stigmatized groups start to become aware that they aren't being treated the same way and know they will probably be discriminated against for it. Studies have shown that "by 10 years of age, most children are aware of cultural stereotypes of different groups in society, and children who are members of stigmatized groups are aware of cultural types at an even younger age." (Major, O'Brien; 2005).

Stigmatising attitude of narcissists to psychiatric illness

Arikan found that a stigmatising attitude to psychiatric patients is associated with narcissistic personality traits.

Challenging stigma

Stigma, though powerful and enduring, is not inevitable, and can be challenged. There are two important aspects to challenging stigma: challenging the stigmatisation on the part of stigmatizers, and challenging the internalized stigma of the stigmatized.
To challenge stigmatization, Campbell et al. summarise three main approaches. Firstly, there are efforts to educate individuals about the non-stigmatising facts and why they should not stigmatise. Secondly, there are efforts to legislate against discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

. Thirdly, there are efforts to mobilize the participation of community
Community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

 members in anti-stigma efforts, to maximize the likelihood that the anti-stigma messages have relevance and purchase, according to local contexts.

In relation to challenging the internalized stigma of the stigmatized, Paulo Freire
Paulo Freire
Paulo Reglus Neves Freire was a Brazilian educator and influential theorist of critical pedagogy.-Biography:...

’s theory of critical consciousness
Critical consciousness
Critical consciousness, conscientization, or conscientização , is a popular education and social concept developed by Brazilian pedagogue and educational theorist Paulo Freire, grounded in Marxist critical theory...

 is particularly suitable. Cornish provides an example of how sex workers in Sonagachi
Sonagachi
Sonagachi is the largest red-light district in kolkata,, India and one of the largest in Asia. It is an area with several hundred multi-story brothels and some 10,000 sex workers...

, a red light district in India, have effectively challenged internalized stigma by establishing that they are respectable women, who admirably take care of their families, and who deserve rights like any other worker. This study argues that it is not only the force of rational argument that makes the challenge to the stigma successful, but concrete evidence that sex workers can achieve valued aims, and are respected by others.

Émile Durkheim

French sociologist, Émile Durkheim was the first to explore Stigma as a social phenomenon, in the year 1895. He wrote:

Imagine a society of saints, a perfect cloister of exemplary individuals. Crimes or deviance, properly so-called, will there be unknown; but faults, which appear venial to the layman, will there create the same scandal that the ordinary offense does in ordinary consciousnesses. If then, this society has the power to judge and punish, it will define these acts as criminal (or deviant) and will treat them as such. (Durkheim, 1895).

Erving Goffman

Goffman was one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century. He defined Stigma as:

The phenomenon whereby an individual with an attribute is deeply discredited by his/her society is rejected as a result of the attribute. Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity. (Goffman, 1963).

Gerhard Falk http://www.buffalostate.edu/sociology/falkg.xml?username=falkg

German born sociologist and historian, Gerhard Falk has written over fifty scholarly works, including STIGMA: How We Treat Outsiders. About Stigma, he wrote:

All societies will always stigmatize some conditions and some behaviors because doing so provides for group solidarity by delineating "outsiders" from "insiders" (Falk, 2001).

See also

  • Identity
    Identity (social science)
    Identity is a term used to describe a person's conception and expression of their individuality or group affiliations . The term is used more specifically in psychology and sociology, and is given a great deal of attention in social psychology...

  • Label (sociology)
    Label (sociology)
    In sociology, the word labeling is used more as a metaphor, than a concrete concept. The general function of labels are widely known and recognized as a method of distinction that helps people recognize one product from another...

  • Labelling
    Labelling
    Labelling or labeling is describing someone or something in a word or short phrase. For example, describing someone who has broken a law as a criminal. Labelling theory is a theory in sociology which ascribes labelling of people to control and identification of deviant behavior.It has been argued...

  • Labeling theory
    Labeling theory
    Labeling theory is closely related to interactionist and social construction theories. Labeling theory was developed by sociologists during the 1960's. Howard Saul Becker's book entitled Outsiders was extremely influential in the development of this theory and its rise to popularity...

  • Self-Schema
    Self-Schema
    The term self-schema refers to the beliefs and ideas people have about themselves. These beliefs are used to guide and organize information processing, especially when the information is significant to the self. Self-schemas are important to a person's overall self-concept.- General self-schema...

  • Self-esteem
    Self-esteem
    Self-esteem is a term in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs and emotions such as triumph, despair, pride and shame: some would distinguish how 'the self-concept is what we think about the self; self-esteem, the...

  • Stereotype
    Stereotype
    A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

  • Social exclusion
    Social exclusion
    Social exclusion is a concept used in many parts of the world to characterise contemporary forms of social disadvantage. Dr. Lynn Todman, director of the Institute on Social Exclusion at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, suggests that social exclusion refers to processes in which...

  • Taboo
    Taboo
    A taboo is a strong social prohibition relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and or forbidden based on moral judgment, religious beliefs and or scientific consensus. Breaking the taboo is usually considered objectionable or abhorrent by society...

  • Passing (sociology)
  • Collateral consequences of criminal charges
    Collateral consequences of criminal charges
    Collateral consequences of criminal conviction, commonly referred to as the "Four C's" are the additional civil state penalties, mandated by statute, that attach to criminal convictions. They are not part of the direct consequences of criminal conviction, such as incarceration, fines, and/or...

  • Scapegoat
    Scapegoat
    Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame. Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals , individuals against groups , groups against individuals , and groups against groups Scapegoating is the practice of singling out any...

  • Stigma management
    Stigma management
    When a person receives unfair treatment or alienation due to a social stigma the effects can be detrimental. Social stigma can be defined as any aspect of an individual’s identity that is devalued in a social context . For some individuals, a stigma can be invisible to others, leading to an...

  • Weight stigma
    Weight Stigma
    Weight stigma, also known as weightism, weight bias, and weight-based discrimination, is discrimination or stereotyping based on one's weight, especially very large or thin people...

  • Leprosy stigma
    Leprosy stigma
    Leprosy stigma is a kind of social stigma, a strong feeling that a leprosy patient is shameful and is not accepted normally in society. Also called leprosy related stigma, leprostigma and stigma of leprosy.-Stigma:...

  • National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign
    National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign
    The National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign is a campaign in the United States to eliminate the social stigma associated with mental illness....

  • Nerd
    Nerd
    Nerd is a derogatory slang term for an intelligent but socially awkward and obsessive person who spends time on unpopular or obscure pursuits, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Nerds are considered to be awkward, shy, and unattractive...

  • Badge of shame
    Badge of shame
    A badge of shame, also a symbol of shame, mark of shame, or simply a stigma, is typically a distinctive symbol required to be worn by a specific group or an individual for the purpose of public humiliation, ostracism, or persecution...



Web & On-Line Journal References


External links


Further reading

  • Erving Goffman
    Erving Goffman
    Erving Goffman was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.The 73rd president of American Sociological Association, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self...

    , Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Prentice-Hall, 1963, ISBN 0-671-62244-7.
  • Heatherton, T. F., Kleck, R. E., Hebl, M. R., & Hull, J. G. (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Stigma, Guilford Press, 2000, ISBN 1-572-30573-8.
  • Kenneth Plummer, Sexual stigma: an interactionist account, Routledge, 1975, ISBN 0710080603


This article incorporates text translated from the corresponding German Wikipedia article.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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