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7 - Goffman & Stigma: Chapter 1-2

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Western University
Sociology 2259
Pamela Glatt

Goffman & Stigma – Chapters 1-2 Stigma • Stigma: a deviant label applied to an individual by society ◦ The situation of an individual who is disqualified from the “norm” • Stigmatization: process of exclusion through which an individual labelled as deviant becomes an “outsider” • DramaturgicalApproach: life is a stage, where our performances always involve the presentation of self • Impression Management: making oneself appear in the best light possible • 2 Types of performances: ◦ Front Stage—how we appear to others when we are in public ◦ Back Stage—who we really are without the public around • We as a society categorize people or schemes of people based on our first impression of them ◦ Usually categorize within the first 30 seconds based on how they look/talk/behave/etc Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity • Discusses the structural preconditions and effects and “stigma” • Contrasts personal identity management vs. external social identity management • Examines how the “stigmatized” interact with “normals” • Examines the socialization of the “stigmatized” • How do the “stigmatized” experience their stigmas? • How does society experience the “stigmatized”? • How should “stigma” be studied? Chapter 1: Usage of “Stigma” • Early Greek usage of the term “stigma” referred to physical markings of the body used for slaves, criminals, and traitors so that other people would know they are deviants • Later, Christian usage of the term “stigma” focused on: ◦ Indicators of holy grace—somebody was engaging in something deviant (ex. Witch hunt) ◦ Physical disorders (medical) • Goffman identifies 3 types of “stigma”—more about the meaning behind labelling someone 1. Body (physical) 2. Character blemish (personal) 3. Tribal (social) ◦ We as a society impute/attach meaning to all three of these stigma types ◦ Any stigma does not independently has any meaning—only when society attaches a label to it when they are different from the norm The “Normals” • Normals: those who don't depart negatively from particular social standards ◦ People considered to be normal and not deviant by our normative standards • Tyranny of the Norm: the expectation of normals that everybody will always conform to define standards at any given time at any given issue ◦ People try to live up to these confined norms • Mixed Contacts: when normals and the stigmatized in the same physical setting/social situation and are interacting with each other ◦ How the stigmatized and the normals manage their contact when they are in a mixed setting • Being “on”: means that when you are in a mixed setting with normals and stigmatized, the stigmatized are constantly aware that the normals are constantly watching them ◦ Managing your behaviours because there is always a chance that the normals will find out— a self-consciousness ◦ Stigmatized always managing their behaviours Stereotypes &Attributes • Stereotypes: normative expectations that we have in society ◦ Composites of social categories available for classificationAND their linked attributes ◦ A“shorthand” for anticipating and expecting certain behaviours of others ◦ We categorize people based on normative expectations • Attributes: develops meaning relative to stereotypes ◦ The qualities attached to a stereotype ◦ These qualities develop meaning (ex.Ahandicap may have people thinking they can't participate in certain physical activities) Social Identity • Imputing: attributing meaning onto something/someone • Social Identity: an individual's category and attributes ◦ Personal attributes ◦ Structural attributes ◦ Based on normative expectations (stereotypes) • Virtual Social Identity: society's characterization of an individual based on that first impression ◦ An identity that society gives an individual—within that first 30 seconds of meeting them VS. • Actual Social Identity: the category & attributes we posses in reality ◦ It's our own social identity of ourselves • Management of a Spoiled Identity: occurs when there is a gap/disjuncture between the virtual and actual social identity ◦ Gap between what society thinks of you and what you think of yourself What is Stigma? • Alabel appended to you • An attribute that separates you from others in society • Alabel that is discrediting/negative • Alanguage of relationships between you and “normals” ◦ About the reaction from others that make you deviant • Discreditable vs. Discredited stigmas: ◦ Discreditable Stigma: a stigma that is invisible at first impression, but it has the potential to be noticed ▪ Ex. If you are a pothead—has the potential to be noticed if you have red eyes and seem really out of it ◦ Discredited Stigma: a stigma that is obvious and visible at first glance ▪ Ex. Your face is disfigured • Ascribed Stigma vs. Achieved Stigma ◦ Ascribed: something that you are born with ◦ Achieved: something that you develop later in life • Master Status: an attribute (real or imagined) by which others identify you ◦ Your stigma becomes your controlling identifier ◦ Overshadows other statuses • Gestalt of Disability: for many disabled individuals, their disability (stigma) is all encompassing and takes over every part of their life ◦ Can also be applied to stigmas that may not be a physical disability Managing Stigma • Impression Management: making oneself appear in the best light possible—managing the impression you're giving to “normals” ◦ People with a discredited stigma have to deal with • Tension Management: managing how much you reveal about your stigma and to whom ◦ People with a discreditable stigma have to deal with • Quiggle: when curiosity of normals develops around the “stigmatized” individual—can violate personal space ◦ The stigmatized person is always wondering if people are aware they have a stigma Responses of the Stigmatized 1. Physically remove stigma 2. Withdrawal—ex. Deflection • Similar to retreatism where the individual literally retreats from society • About experiencing shame for that stigma 3. Avoidance • Dividing social worlds—can avoid certain situations • Normalization • Infinite regress—back-and-forth avoidance (denying the stigma in certain situations) 4. Acceptance • Affirm status—using their stigma to do good and not have it stop them (ex. Terry Fox) • Hostile Bravado—being very hostile with people for not accepting their stigma 5. Hook or excuse • Using a stigma for a secondary gain—to get out of something 6. Seek out sympathetic others Sympathetic Others • In-group vs. Out-group ◦ In-group—the stigmatized ◦ Out-group—normals • 2 types of “Sympathetic Others”: 1. The “Own” • Those who share the same stigma as you and can relate to you • Advantage: they understand—you don't have to explain in detail • Limitation: often times when you hang out with people with the same stigma that stigma is basically all you talk about 2. The “Wise” • People who don't share you stigma, but they have a good understanding of your stigma • Afamily member or a friend who is there for you and is sympathetic • 2 types of the “Wise”: 1. Standpoint: “expert” on the stigma • Someone who knows/understand your stigma is detail, but are normals 2. Courtesy Stigma: a stigma acquired as a result of being related to/associated with a person with a stigma • Normalization vs. Normification ◦ Normalization: how far will the normals go in treating you as if you are normal ▪ Can often be awkward ◦ Normification: how the stigmatized will go in trying to appear normal in a mixed status environment Moral Career of the “Stigmatized” • 2 phases of the socialization in the moral career” 1. Learning & internalizing the standpoint of “normals” • When someone is labelled as deviant they learn what normals think of them/what the normal standpoints are and see how they deviate from those norms • Acquiring the identity beliefs of society • Learning the general ideas about what is deviant and what is normal in society 2. Learning about one's particular stigma & the implications of possessing it • They learn and internalize what is deviant in ourselves and what the connotations are attached to it • 4 patterns of a moral career can take: 1. Learning the 2 phases simultaneously • You can have a combination or just one of the 2 patterns • Learning about societies ideas of what is deviant or not will also mean you will learn what is deviant about you 2. Information control via interactions with others • When someone is stigmatized they can often be shielded from their stigma and that people in your life protect you from it for a good part of your life • How you learn what is normal and what is not in society and then later on you learn about your own particular stigma 3. Re-socialization due to: ◦ Acquisition of stigma later in life ◦ Learning about a discreditable stigma (later in life) ◦ *When a person is socialized in society, but then later in life has to be re-socialized again 4. Socialized by the in-group, but then must be socialized in the ways of the out-group • When the second phase of socialization happens before the first one
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