--Social Stigma-- Question: Stigma Arises when others fail to meet with our normative expectations.

Essay by nextheavenUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2009

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Question: Stigma Arises when others fail to meet with our normative expectations.

StigmaIn this discussion we are going to examine how normative expectations are derived from daily routine, values and norms brought upon us by society and culture. We will then examine what happens when one fails to meet with these norms and rules and how it makes them feel. We will then discussion how one tainted by stigma will learn to live in society and the various devices they can put in place to cope with this life altering label.

Firstly, to conquer the question of what stigma actually is let us first begin this discussion with a definition - "A powerfully negative social label that radically changes a person's self-concept and social identity". Erving Goffman identified three very different types of stigma. Firstly, he noted, there existed the disfigurement of the body, such as physical deformities. Secondly, there are flaws of the individual character such as being weak willed, treacherous or having a criminal record.

Lastly there was what Goffman identified as "tribal stigma of race" which referred to stigma that transcended through lineages based on an individual's ethnicity, sex and religion.

In society today the social structure depends mainly upon routines, rules and norms being followed. We have learnt how to act in given situations, e.g. you would not expect to find a priest singing along to Black Sabbath during a ceremony!Erving Goffman coined the term "Dramaturgical Model". He saw social life as a stage where people acted out various roles in accordance with given settings. He identified back stage regions where preparations such as putting on clothes and going to the toilet took place and also front stage regions where the performance took place - this was the image that an individual aimed to portray.