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Stigma

Definition

Stigma is an attribute or characteristic that marks a person as different from others and that extensively discredits his or her identity. Ancient Greeks coined the term stigma to describe a mark cut or burned into the body that designated the bearer as someone who was morally defective, such as a slave, criminal, or traitor. Sociologist Erving Goffman resurrected the term, defining stigma as an attribute that spoils a person's identity, reducing him or her in others' minds “from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one.” Stigmatizing marks are associated with negative evaluations and devaluing stereotypes. These negative evaluations and stereotypes are generally well known among members of a culture and become a basis for excluding, avoiding, and discriminating against those who ...

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