Goffman and Labeling Theory

Blog #4

Based on the studies of Goffman, stigma is “a discrepancy between actual and virtual social identity that causes us to alter our estimation of them downward.” An example of this would be the labeling theory. In the labeling theory we label people based on how we see them. For example, we see a young boy walking down the street with a sweatshirt on and he has his hood up. Without knowing him, we would label him as a thug just because of the attire that he is wearing. But actually he is a nice boy that is still in school. Another example is when we see people with iPhones, mac laptops, a nice car, and we label that their family is rich and bought them all those nice things. But actually, he bought all those things himself because he works his butt off. We label people all the time without knowing who they really are. We should stop doing this because we don’t know them personally and don’t know what is going on in their lives.

I also am a person who labels people based on how I see them. For example, I always thought that the rapper 2 chainz was an idiot, who dropped out of school, and couldn’t rap. But recently I found out that he played college basketball, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA in 3 years at a 4-year school. This all goes with the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover!”

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2 responses to “Goffman and Labeling Theory

  1. It’s difficult not “judging a book by it’s cover” when we have so many forms of media and publications that consistently portray certain people based on stereotypes. I personally do not judge others based on my first impression of them or on appearance, but I have seen many that do. Many people have the habit of labeling and relating others to certain actions or places or even backgrounds. An example of this is today’s African American. Blacks are normally socialized with crime or low income areas when in fact not all of them come from that background. Skin color should not be the deciding factor on how to view someone, but this type of labeling continues. Other example including mannerisms, dressing styles, and dialects or languages. I believe most people would be surprised at how many individuals do not fit into the stereotypes they are related to.

  2. YES! in the society that we live in and the focus and attention that most of us give to media and entertainment, it is rather difficult not judging a book by its cover. But I don’t think its impossible, I mean most of us do know that to some extent media brainwashes us, and we also know that everything is not as it appears always, so it’s possible for us to make reasonable judgments if we are going to judge. I think the labeling theory depends more on the physical traits than the personality. Because we judge things as we perceive them. We instantly call people names, or make assumptions from the first negative thing we see or hear about them and that’s is where the problem lies.

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