Blog # 4 – Goffman ” Stigma and Those Awkward Situations”

ImageI think that sociologist Goffman’s theory about stigma’s and the way society groups different individuals into seperate categories based on typical attributes is so true and is  a recurring problem today in our society. Sadly “labeling” is something that happens constantly and it’s almost like automatic thinking and people just do it unconsciously. We place labels on everyone for every reason possible, we stereotype and categorize people and I think we”re all guilty of doing it unfortunately. Goffman’s theory on “mixed contacts” I believe was very interesting because I have actually been in these types of situations. Mixed contacts is when a normal person and a stigmatized person come into physical contact with each other and it becomes awkward so both people try to avoid the situation, it’s like that person knows that you know and you know that they know that you know so its just a really awkward and uncomfortable situation so both parties try to avoid each other and usually the stigmatized person tends to isolation. I think every person has encountered situations in which this has happened and I think that they way Goffman deconstructs the psychological way that this commom thing happens in very interesting and easy to understand. This has happened to me before when I went out with an unemployed friend, and when the bill arrived I offered to pay because I knew they weren’t working and thought it would be a nice gesture and that person became really offended and then it just got really awkward.. Last time I went out with that person. I think that situations like these happen all the time and I think it’s awesome that I was able to learn and understand this from a sociological perspective.


5 responses to “Blog # 4 – Goffman ” Stigma and Those Awkward Situations”

  1. Jess, you make a very valid opinion here stating that we constantly place labels on everyone, even sometimes perhaps without thinking. We are so quick to label some one without taking into account their personal issues, struggles, class status, or even what a particular person may be going through at a moment. If we wouldn’t want some to judge us when we are experiencing these troubles, why is it fair to do it to others?

  2. Jess I agree with you as well people tend to place labels on people I do it as well, without realizing it I may walk by a person that’s in a neighborhood that’s perceived to be bad automatically I say Oh that person is ghetto oh this person should get a job. I need to stop doing that I do it unconsciously maybe jokingly, but its not a joke because when its done to me I don’t like it. If somebody of a different status tries to demean or belittle you because they are in a different tax bracket I feel just like the person I was jokingly labeling. Maybe they own a big house and really nice car and they label me as lazy its not fair, but i did the same so I should remember before I judge we all should.

  3. I agree with what you say.I believe as long as we live in any society, we will all be stigmatized. Even if we choose not have label ourselves, that is a label with in itself. Awkward situations happen like that so often even to myself. But I can be very upfront and like to just air things out. For instance, a friend finds out he did not get paid on our way to a restaurant. He look flustered and I immediately asked/whispered to him: do you have money to eat or I’ll cover you and pay me back when you get paid. He said: yeah thanks. And that was the end of that.

  4. We will always place labels upon people. That won’t ever change it’s our innate nature as human beings. We can not change 100,000 years of behavioral evolution in a a span of a lifetime. We were never meant to be a species which expresses themselves as individuals. But it is what we have become and we are seeing the exact reasons why we should not have become this. It creates so many issues in society where the individual values their opinions so highly and refuses to realize that what they think and what they express truly don’t matter to the rest of the species.

  5. I agree as well. I used to do it all the time but from taking this course I’ve try to become more conscious of judging a person’s actions by stereotypes that could be associated with that person. It’s easy to say “that’s something a man /woman would do” rather than taking the time to really evaluate a situation for what it is. Society has made it seem like labeling is normal by showing it in movies, on television and in the press.

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