SOC311H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Stereotype Threat, Erving Goffman, Sex Offender Registries In The United States

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5 Feb 2019
The mark of a criminal record
What is stigma?
Goffman 1963: an attribute that is deeply discrediting
Link and Phelan 2001: a rationale for devaluing, rejecting and excluding
particular groups of individuals
Stigma happens with elements of labelling, stereotyping, discrimination,
status loss, and separation - they all co-occur together
Based on this negative attribute someone is labelled with, a rationale is
constructed, excluding them from rights, opportunities etc
Not inherent in the attribute but realized in interaction with the non-
It is the reaction to the attribute that is important, specifically the reaction that
occurs when stigmatized groups interact with non-stigmatized groups
Examples of stigmatized identities: individuals with MHI, race, homelessness,
addiction issues, health issues (HIV+), class, sexuality
What are the consequences of stigma?
Us vs them dichotomy
Stigmatized individuals are different
Overt discrimination
Being barred from employment, not being able to volunteer, loosing
benefits (access to public housing, food stamps)
Stereotype threat
They know they are stigmatized - tension they feel in interactions b/c they
know people may react to them
Fear that people may reject/devalue them
Relationship between stigma and power
Negative labels
Treat stigmatized worse, they do not have access to the same things as
those with higher power
By stigmatizing, powerful groups can maintain unequal distributions of
resources in society and justify structures of inequality
Marginalize certain groups, control their access to resources
What is the connection between stigma and prisoner re-entry?
Existential stigma: no control over what you are stigmatized for (ex. Wheelchair
Lecture 3
Saturday, January 26, 2019
2:21 PM
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Existential stigma: no control over what you are stigmatized for (ex. Wheelchair
Achieved stigma: responsible for/played a role in their identity (Ex.
Incarceration), they did an action that resulted in their stigmatized status
Expressive function of law means that incarceration results in shaming the
Incarceration as 'achieved stigma'
Denial of rights and resources for former prisoners
Degradation experience - individuals are shamed, their identity is stripped and
replaced with one of convict / ex-convict
Former prisoners and internalized stigma
Intense fear of stigmatization upon returning to society
Stigma is rooted in cultural understandings of what is good/bad, normal/not
normal, positive/negative
So the know they will face stigma when they are released from prison
In prison they don't have access to traditional modes of maintaining self-respect
They are constantly reminded that they are an inmate
They are stripped of their identity
So they go through self-rejection
By internalizing stigma, they are reinforcing public discourse about what is and
is not normal
Subjective status of former prisoners
Schnittker and Bacak 2013 A mark of disgrace or a badge of honor
US ladder
Top of ladder: best education, job, money
Bottom of ladder: worst off, worst job, least money, worst education
Place yourself on the ladder of where you feel your subjective status is
No history of incarceration: 7
Former prisoners: 5
Community ladder
Envision the ladder in terms of community
Top: person in community with highest standing
No history of incarceration: 8
Former prisoners: 5
Significant decline in subjective status following imprisonment
Statistically significant
Regardless of length of sentence, this subjective status was still the average for
those who have been incarcerated
Study is hopeful b/c before we used to just think those who came from prison
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