Blog #4 Goffman and Stigma

Goffman’s definition of stigma is “a discrepancy between actual and virtual social identity that causes us to alter our estimation of them downward.” In todays society there is often a stigma which isn’t just related to one person but to a group of people as a whole. Stigmas don’t just pop in and out for fun, but can rather be created through ones actions. In addition even though a single person’s actions may put a stigma on ones self, it does in a way start to form or characterize an opinion about a group of people as a whole. An example would be the attack on september 11. Most young children at the time would be ignorant to the idea of terrorism or the differences in race. But because of the actions of a few people(Terrorist), people would start to generate of characterize the idea that islamic people are associated with terrorism. Now younger generations growing up will have this stigma attached to them even though they have nothing to do with the actions of others. All in all stigmas can be attached to anyone or to even a group of people. Its not the way things are suppose to be but it is what society allows.

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2 responses to “Blog #4 Goffman and Stigma

  1. Stigmas are definitely a powerful thing. I agree that society is responsible for determining what is right and what is wrong; what is acceptable and what is not. In reference to your example, I think that stigma stems from the need to blame. Individuals of society need a reason to explain why certain things happen (i.e. 9/11 happened because of Muslims who cover themselves from head to toe or have long beards, etc.) so being able to stigmatize a group of people allows them to do that. In return, the ones who are stigmatized may use that as an excuse for being the way that they are (i.e. I wear baggy clothing so I must be apart of a gang therefore I will simply identify myself as being a gang member). Stigmas can definitely create a lot of controversy within society.

  2. Most definitely, I definitely agree with what you said in regards to “people needing a reason to explain why things happen”. Stigmas are allowed because society allows it and also none wants to take responsibility for anything that seems to be bad, so in other words throwing the blame on another is the way out. However it isn’t an excuse to stigmatize. I think the question that remains is if society has none to blame then whats next??

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