Short stature (dwarf), physical disabilities, facial disfigurement,
stuttering, a prison record, being obese, or not being able to read, may become stigmatized
attributes. In India, widowhood is a stigmatized, though no stigma attaches to a
As used by Erving Goffman (1922-1982), stigma is differentness about an
individual which is given a negative evaluation by others and thus distorts and discredits
the public identity of the person.
Stigma may lead to the adoption of a self-identity that incorporates the
negative social evaluation.
Stigma is branding, a sign of social disgrace or subjection.
Stigma is mark or sign of social disgrace or social discredit, regarded as
impressed on or carried by a person though may be through no fault of the person.
Illegitimacy is considered an unambiguous social stigma.
Stigma is a visible or apparent characteristic indicative of some undesirable or
discreditable quality, action, or circumstance.
Stigmatization Among Probationers
Andreas Schneider ; Wayne McKim
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume:38 Issue:1 Dated:2003 Pages:19 to 31
Abstract: An identity theory perspective defines stigma as negative labeling, which may
either come from others or from within an individual. Drawing on the concepts of primary
and secondary deviance provided by labeling theory, the authors set out to determine
whether probationers experience stigmatization from within (secondary deviance) or from
others in their community (primary deviance). Personal interviews were conducted with 97
current probationers in rural West Texas. Questions focused on probationers
perceptions of how employers, family, the community, law enforcement, and friends viewed
them as a result of their probation placement in order to establish the presence of
primary deviance. Probationers were also asked about their perceptions of themselves to
establish primary deviance. The results indicate that probationers perceived
stigmatization to originate mainly from employers, and also from law enforcement officials
and the community in general. This primary stigmatization was counterbalanced by the
probationers perceptions of themselves and from the support of friends and family
members. As a result, probationers did not engage in secondary deviance to the extent
expected due to the contradictions in the different forms of stigmatization. The support
of family and friends is thus extremely important in destabilizing the stigmatization of
others. In closing, the authors suggest that although the lack of stigmatization may be
indicative of the success of the probation program in West Texas, it may also be
indicative of its failure. Criminal justice processes may be viewed as so commonplace as
to have lost their ability to make an impression on offenders in this area. Future studies
should include samples of juvenile offenders.