Goffman – Social Stigma

Goffman stands behind his theory of labeling.  The labeling theory is a theory where public labeling has an effect on a person’s image, similar to stereotyping.  For example, if a person is labeled deviant by society they may start acting as an deviant because society has already branded he/she deviant.  Unfortunately, society categorizes people when trying to get to know them.  Before we really get to know someone, we usually have an idea of them beforehand which can lead to a social stigma.

Stigma is the discrepancy between our idea of someone’s social identity and their actual idea, which can cause us to think less of that person.  For example, after 9/11 some people started to believe that all Middle Eastern people were terrorists.  No matter who they were, as long as they looked Middle Eastern they were labeled terrorists to others.

There are two types of stigmas that were discussed in class.  A “known about” stigma is something that is obvious and can be seen, such as an obese person, which is named as discredited.  An “unknown” stigma is something that cannot be seen, such a tattoo, depending on where the location is, which is named discreditable.

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One response to “Goffman – Social Stigma

  1. I once proved that I can see the reactions from a so called stigma. I was in my class and we were remembering nine eleven. My friend who dressed like a Muslim was so anxious while people stared at her. I patted her on the shoulder, making her know that I was aware of the ignorance of my class mates due to stigma. People thought lowly of her in that political context or in tat time period.

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