Stigma Theory

black sheep in crowd of white sheep


Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of  a person or group who differs from the cultural norms of another group.

“The Greeks … originated the term stigma  to refer to bodily signs designed to expose something unusual and bad about the moral status of the signifier. … Today the term is widely used in something like the original literal sense, but is applied more to the disgrace itself than to the bodily evidence of it.”  (1)

Normal Project Examples


Erving Goffman (1922 — 1982)

  • Impairment is one kind of undesirable difference from social expectations that are discrediting
  • Disability is a sociocultural construction
  • Medical anthroplogists use in their work


Stigma theory can be used to therorize abelism (power held by non-disabled over disabled people), and stigma can be therorized in terms of embodiment and phenomenological theory.


  1. Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity.  p. 131.

Published by Sarah Quinto

%d bloggers like this: