Everett Hughes invoked the term dirty work in reference to jobs and tasks that are often seen as degrading, disgusting, or debasing. Dirty work is often seen as a necessary evil in society—someone needs to clean the streets, exterminate disease-carrying pests, or guard inmates in a prison. Yet, although society acknowledges a need for this dirty work, it stigmatizes the workers who perform it. And because individuals generally define themselves (and are defined by others) at least partly by what they do, those who engage in dirty work are often cast by society and themselves as dirty workers.

Dirty Work as a Form of Stigma

Dirty work is typically thought of as a subset of the larger construct of stigma, which also includes nonwork aspects of an ...

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