Topic: Religion

Last updated: March 8, 2019

Stigmas are powerful labels that can potentially and negatively affect every single aspect of an individual’s life. Erving Goffman identified three different types of stigma as stigma of character traits, physical stigma, and stigma of group.

Physical stigma are physical limitations or signs of deformity that are beyond normal. For example, people that are overweight are viewed as signs of deviance. Stigmatization has allowed thinner people permission to believe that there is something wrong with larger people. The same could be said of people that are considered too short, too thin, and even having a birthmark or having to use a wheelchair are all also seen as signs of deviance. Stigma of group is an extreme disapproval with a person based on socially characteristic grounds that are perceived and serve to distinguish them from other members of a society.

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Stigma of group is usually formed based on race, sexual orientation, occupation, ethnicity, religion etc. An example of this stigma would be queer people, they aren’t seen normally by other people in society, therefore queer people are stigmatized in this way. Another example might be that postal office workers are viewed as rude and angry just because a fair amount of people have had less than exceptional experiences once. Stigma of character are categories of people that are stigmatized based on moral flaws or shortcomings. For example, people that are dishonest, are liars, cheat, steal, or maybe even mentally unstable may all be stigmatized from time to time. People that have been imprisoned, are unemployed, are alcoholics, or maybe even suicidal are also seen as deviances to society.


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