Goffman defines stigma as a unusual gap that lies between virtual social identity and the actual society identity. Stigma is said to exist when a number of interrelated components are put together. The first component is when people are distinguished and their human differences labeled. The second way is when labeled persons are categorized into their own group which will facilitate some degree of separation from the rest of the society, the third way is by use of cultural beliefs links to label persons to unwanted characteristics. The last way will be through the labeled persons losing their status and eventually having wanting outcomes (Goffman, 2009, pp 5). Stigmatization is mainly dependent on access to social, political and economic power that leads to the identification of differentness. This is the basis of coming up with stereotypes, separation of labeled persons into distinct groups and eventually to the full implementation of disapproval, exclusion, discrimination and rejection (Goffman, 2009, pp 5-10). At work place, some people choose to ignore Harry’s differences and concentrate on doing their routine duties. In such cases, the differences can be termed to be irrelevant according to Goffman. There is a criterion of selection of human differences that will matter socially. Emphasis of this observation is normally overlooked because the differences are identified and labeled, they are then taken for granted as just the way things are (Goffman, 1963, p 13). Stigma also occurs when there is an association of human differences with undesirable attributes. Here a person is associated with undesirable characteristics that form the stereotype. In our example of Harry at his work place, people always refer to him for his use of the wheelchair. This reference to his use of the wheelchair makes people to avoid him, which eventually creates stigma. This is not always the case as some people in his work place help him to move around with his wheelchair. If workmates will identify him as a stereotype then it will lead to him being distanced away from the rest of society (Goffman, 2009, pp 10). Stigma can also be manifested when an individual is being separated from the rest of the community. At his workplace Harry may distinguished from the rest of the workers as being unable to move around using his legs but instead does it with the help of a wheelchair. Taking an example of the United States where the old order Americans termed African American slaves, American Indians and subsequent immigrants as out-groups. The Americans termed them as very different people from them. The linking of labels to undesirable attributes became the criterion for believing that negatively labeled persons are fundamentally different from those whom they do not share the label . This is one of the key contributing factors as to Harry worked hard at his work place to be noticed through his efforts and not through use of the wheelchair (Riggins, 1990, p 341-367). Discrimination and status loss are also the outcomes of stigmatization. This will be the eventual outcome because when an individual is labeled, separated from the rest of the society and linked to undesirable characteristics, a rationale is developed for devaluing, rejecting and excluding such people from the rest of
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