How do we understand health in relation to society? What role does culture play in shaping our experiences of, and orientation to, health and illness? How do we understand medicine and medical treatment within a sociological framework?
Stigma commonly refers to a negatively defined condition, attribute, trait or behaviour conferring ‘deviant’ status, which is socially culturally and historically variable. It is a political process related to macro-social issues such as power, discrimination, and the distribution of resources in society.
[Page 59]The term ‘stigma’ has a long lineage, predating the advent of the social sciences as we know them today. The Greeks, in fact, originated the term to refer to bodily signs, cut or burnt into the body, which were designed to expose the bearer as a slave, criminal, or social outcast. Stigma was thus a political phenomenon intimately related to citizenship and (the lack of) entitlement to community membership. Today, exclusionary practices are still enacted toward those who are ...