Goffman On Stigma Own vs. Wise

Erving Goffman was a sociologist that focused on the interaction of people on a micro-level. Goffman described how people stigmatize others as a result of the Labeling Theory. The Labeling theory is when a person/people brand someone as a deviant and have a negative view/attitude towards that person because of that deviance. Goffman described  types  of groups within a stigmatized society: the own and the wise. The “own” represents a group of stigmatized individuals who share a particular stigma and are able to comfort others who have the same stigma. The “own” tends to support each stigmatized person in their group as a way to help them understand that they are not alone. A well known type of “own” group can be found in nursing homes for the disabled, or in rehabilitation centers for alcoholics/ drug addicts. These groups always talk about the stigma and try to help those who are struggling with the issue. The other group is the “wise”. The “wise” are considered to be normal people who feel they can relate to stigmatized individuals due to the fact that they are related to one who is stigmatized or they work in environments that cater to stigmatized people. The “wise” may work in nursing homes, a prison/jail, a rehabilitation center, and other institutions that house stigmatized people. The “wise” usually treats the stigmatized individual normally since they are usually around that person/those persons.


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