CRM 2306 Lecture Notes - Ascribed Status, Vacuum, Erving Goffman

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16 Oct 2011

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“Doing Time Together”: Prisoners and Their Families
Megan ---- and ---- Codd Articles
“Spoiled Identities”
Goffman: ***stigma = “spoiled identity”
An attribute that ppl have that is deeply discrediting
And effectively taints them during their interactions with other ppl
So a person with this attribute (spoiled identity) is reduced from the minds
of other ppl from being someone that is whole to someone we’re able to discount
Takes you from being seen as whole person to someone that is subsumed by
that tainted aspect
All other things that comprise you are ignored cuz the stigma becomes you
Comes from:
1. Abominations of the body (ex. a physical deformity something
physical regarded negatively)
2. Blemishes of individ character (ex. being weak willed, dishonest)
they’re inferred from things like being imprisoned, being addicted,
being gay, being unemployed
3. Tribal stigmas: race, nation, religion, ethnicity transmitted
through lineage
Stigmatized by others cuz you belong to a certain race
Jews and gypsy’s – not in one spot but when they move around they
stay in a tribal stigma
Individs in an effort to avoid negative interactions will restrict themselves to
interacting with other ppl that are stigmatized in a similar manner (they understand
your social sitch) = actually reinforcing the stigmatized self-concept
It becomes how you see yourself as well
Recidivism prisoner becomes who you are
How Others See You Becomes Who You Are
Master status (individs are judged by some quality/characteristic) becomes your
dominant characteristic (dominant identity)
Ex. Doctor
Overrides all other characteristics in perceived importance
Ex. religious doctor but the fact that doctor is socially idolized, doctor
becomes your master status
May be stigmatized: if you’re a possible pedophile doctor, maybe you’re not guilty
but you’ll still be known as a pedophile cuz it’s so adhesive
Experiencing Stigma
Interactive process: social label will obliterate other dimensions of your social
identity as you’re interacting with others
“A negatively valued aspect of an individ’s life comes to dominate
It becomes who you are
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In diff periods of time and places, your stigma as a master status may mean
more or less (ex. if with similarly stigmatized ppl than that’s no longer your master
Embracing the “New You”
To reasonably redevelop a positive identity, you may reorganize your life in a way
that others consider to be deviant
In attempt to see yourself as someone of value, in the eyes of other ppl, what you can
end up doing is embracing the identity that others have given you
(deviant/stigmatized) and interacting with ppl that are similarly cast in that light
Psychological defense against negative labeling
Attempt to recast one’s self-identity embrace the deviant identity
They “are”, therefore they “do”: if you continue to label someone in a certain way,
they start to act in the way they’ve been labeled
OTHERS (ex. the dumb loud ones all get together to assert to themselves that they
do have an identity)
Universal Factors of Prisonization
Prisonization: process of being subsidized into the subculture
How prisonized you are is judged by how easy it is for you to adjust to the
outside world
Clemmer: prisonization is similar to Americanization that certain immigrants will
Must learn the “rules” both formal and informal (inmate code)
Everyone undergoes prisonization (to some extent) and engage in these
factors to a certain extent:
Acceptance of inferior role- when prisoners go into prison, all of them accept,
to certain extent, their inferior role (Halsey = prisoner identity) and accept that they
are dependent and weak and weakness comes to fact that you must be submissive
to authority
Accumulation of facts concerning organization of prison
Prisoners realize they don’t “owe you anything” - learn they don’t need to do
anything and their needs will be met (ex. will be fed, will receive medical attention)
Develop’t of new habits
Desiring of good job there are perks to being good (ex. extra food)
This is one aspect of how after a certain amount of time, activities and amenities
begin to take on a new amount of importance
Secondary Prisonization
Megan Comfort: female partners of prisoners they undergo secondary
Because their loved ones are inside, they are in some way doing time
Acculturation: adopt traits, lingo, change style of dress to accommodate prison
regulations/rules; modify professional and personal schedules
The prison is “creeping outside it’s walls”
They recognize in doing this they will gain access to seeing their loved ones
Rules change all the time, seem very arbitrary and you can’t really understand why
their in place so it fuels ppls resentment
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