The word stigma itself has been stigmatized by our culture. Consider the modern usage of the word. Instead of talking about the acts of stigmatization and what is or isn’t assigned a stigma in society, we talk about the effect of the stigma. Thus the perspective shifts to not the stigma, but rather the feelings of disgrace associated with that stigma. But we don’t even call it a stigma anymore. We say “Oh they just have a ‘problem’” or talk about how ‘weird’ or ‘off-putting’ the individual is.
The word stigma is viewed as excessively harsh by those engaging in the stigma, so rather than admit it exists they just group everything under the ideas of various stereotypes. “Stigma is a hurtful word that has no place in our society” would be the idea. And so the preferable idea is to just ‘stereotype’ people but assert to one’s self as you’re doing it that they’re not actually like that, ‘probably’.
Much of Goffman’s focus was on the concept of stigma, “a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.” The idea based around a person’s virtual and actual social identities and how they can often come into harmful conflict with one another. This, unfortunately for those it affects, is not due to some inherent flaw in the person’s character but rather the result of some discrepancy between themselves and their society’s cultural norms.
To no fault of their own, a person will often be thought of or treated differently from others for being different from what another considers the norm. What this is, is in some ways the logical end into stereotyping. The stigma attached to a group or some form of identifier and in some way, transforms into the stereotype.
What then occurs is a series of assumptions about character becoming interconnected and then unified under one banner of a stereotype.