Stigma

Topic: Prejudice And Bias

Stigma is the societal disapproval and judgment of a person or group of people because they do not fit their community’s social norms.

Behavior that defies social norms is often associated with stigma, a negative social label that changes a person’s social identity by classifying the labeled person as abnormal or tainted in some respect. Stigma, ostracism, and other forms of escalated social punishment are societal tools used to keep members within the confines of acceptable behavior. Stigma can have negative effects, such as when stigma towards people with mental illness prevents individuals from seeing mental health treatment.


Practice Questions


Khan Academy

MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Online Flashcards Sociology Question 7

Practice Exam 4 P/S Section Passage 9 Question 47


Key Points

• What is considered “normal” changes with changing societal standards.

• In very crude terms, society generally sees normality as good and abnormality as bad. Being labeled as “normal” or “abnormal” can have profound ramifications for an individual, such as exclusion or stigmatization by society.

• Stigma and discrimination can add to the suffering of those seen as “abnormal.”

• Stigma, ostracism, and other forms of escalated social punishment are societal tools used to keep members within the confines of acceptable behavior.

• Stigma can have negative effects.


Key Terms

social norms: group-held beliefs about how members of that group should behave in a given situation.

stigma: the societal disapproval and judgment of a person or group of people because they do not fit their community’s social norms.



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