Tag Archives: Erving Goffman

Blog #2: Stigmatization of Stigma

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’.

Blog #1: Goffman – Stigma and Stereotype

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.

Blog #4: The Stigma of Mental Illness

Stigma is affixed on a person, by the greater society, who differs from their cultural norms. As Goffman states, stigmas are everywhere in society until they become destigmatized. Some examples stigmas that have become destigmatized are tattoos, homosexuality, and breast cancer. The stigma that has yet to be destigmatized and that I will be talking about is mental illness.

The news article that I found grasped my attention and made me realize that mental illness is surely a stigma in our society. Coming from a family where two members have mental illnesses, I can see now how mental illnesses are perceived in our society and how it is not a cultural norm. Why treat someone who suddenly started hearing voices different? They were once “normal” like yourself and I; I doubt they want to be alone and closed up in a room having pills forced down their throat.

This is how Zac felt after not telling his mother for a year that he was hearing voices, “People will judge you, especially after someone gets assaulted by a crazy guy. I could be that crazy guy.” He says that he wants to live a normal life, get a job, and start a family. How will girls perceive him once he tells them that he is schizophrenic?

Another example of a child suffering from a mental illness, is a a 7 year old schizophrenic girl that ended up being interviewed by Oprah. Her parents tried to help as much as possible to have their daughter live a normal life. As a result, her mother found other families that have children suffering from mental illnesses and began to have occasional meet-ups where their children can play and not be judged by one another. In a sense, these families have destigmatized the mental illnesses that their children developed and have accepted them for who they’ve become.


Blog 4: Stigmas


According to Goffman, stigma is a discrepancy between actual and virtual social identity that causes us to alter our estimation of them downward.  Stigma is an attribute that is deeply discrediting, but also depends on its circumstances.  An attribute that stigmatizes one person may be typical for another person and is therefore neither creditable nor discreditable in itself.  Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of a person or group of people based on their physical and/or social interactions with society and distinguishing them with society.  Erving Goffman grouped social stigma into three different categories 1) physical attributes, 2) deviations in personal traits, 3) “tribal stigmas”.  An example for the first category would be having a skin disorder.  Deviations in personal traits include having a criminal record, drug addiction, or a mental illness.  Tribal stigmas include traits relating to a person’s ethnicity or religion.