Blog #1 Goffman’s Stigma

Goffman defines symbolic interactionism as “symbols when communicating with others, interested most in face to face interactions when strangers meet.” When we discussed this in class, a bunch of ideas ran through my mind.. Everyday, we as humans interact with complete strangers and face certain stigmas from society. In terms of labeling theory, which refers to people labeling someone and the label sticks- I can think of a few examples. In this news this past year, 2 big stories were Casey Anthony and the death of her daughter and also, more recently Treyvon Martin. The media acted as a social agent, labeling her the murderer of her daughter, although she was acquitted of all charges. However, now Casey is dealing with the repercussions of this label and stigma symbol of a “murderer” and was forced to go into hiding because of death threats due to the media portrayal of her. George Zimmerman is also facing the same challenging stigmas. He now has a stigma symbol of being a racist murderer. In my everyday life, I can relate these 3 symbols which Goffman mentions. For example, 6 years ago when my father passed away I was looked out as “the girl whos father died” in my small community. It seemed like people acted different around me and pitied me which I hated. For me, this was a horrible stigma and thankfully, over time it seemed to decrease. When I think of a prestige symbol, I think of having a nice and expensive car. For example, on the way to class last week I noticed a nice car on the LIE with the special MD license plate. I thought to myself, wow that dr. must make a lottt of money! It’s unforunate, but these simple assumptions happen all the time in our everyday lives without us even realizing. Lastly, the best example I can think of as an identifier would be a girl walking around with a knockoff Louis Vuitton or Prada handbag to portray herself to others as having a lot of money.

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2 responses to “Blog #1 Goffman’s Stigma

  1. Interesting read. Once you are labeled as something negative, it can be almost impossible to shake. This reminds me of the 2006 duke lacrosse rape scandal where three member’s of the team were falsely accused of rape. The media found them to be guilty before the facts came in. Not only are their lives forever changed, but the case lead to the disbarment of the prosecutor.

  2. Sorry about the passing of your father. I know it’s hard losing a loved one and dealing with the way people treat you after. Just like you said they were labeling you as that girl who’s father passed and treated you much differently than they would usually treat you. Also, you made a good point referencing the Zimmerman and Anthony case. Those are two people that will forever be labeled negatively for the rest of their lives.

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