Stigma Is An Interesting Concept In Social Psychology Because

1515 WordsMay 12, 20177 Pages
Stigma is an interesting concept in social psychology because it not only studies the experience of marginalized people (who already do not receive enough attention in science) but dissects the inner workings of power imbalances, internal dynamics, and interpersonal conflicts. Arguably the most important foundational text in stigma research, across all disciplines, is Goffman’s Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Goffman’s perspective and definition of stigma has been revised many times since its publication, but it remains one of the most influential works in the field. Goffman suggests that stigma is an attribute which sets an individual apart from others in a negative way, which leads to social outcasting or unacceptability. He…show more content…
Socially, stigmatized individuals are usually met with opposition from “normal” people—there is a severe lack of acceptance and alienation that result from stigma, and with these also comes discrimination. Goffman notes that even within the first few minutes of a conversation, a “normal” person can find fault in stigmatized individuals and entirely shift the tone of the encounter. However, Goffman makes sure to note that stigmatization isn’t always a bad thing. Outgroup perceptions and prejudice are definitely detrimental, but stigmatized individuals are often able to form an identity around their stigma—or at least positively integrate it into their self concept. As a result, stigmatized people may be able to find support in people with a similar stigma, and can also accept their “blemishes.” Some, Goffman says, insist that their socially undesirable attributes are actually a blessing in disguise as it has changed their world view or personality for the better. Other scholars have taken Goffman’s work, which is truly a foundational stigma text, and dissected and revised his conceptualization. For the purpose of this paper, four articles by Link and Phelen (2001), Major, Kaiser and McCoy (2003), Chen and Bargh (1997), and Scott (1997), will be discussed in the context of Goffman’s work. These texts are especially important because they all build on one another and consistently link back to prior concepts. Each text is able to redesign the
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