I began reading “Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity” by Erving Goffman this morning. I’m only on page 10 and I’m already blown away. Much of what he has been speaking about so far is very familiar as I and/or you have talked about it. An example is how many of us feel that once we’ve been stigmatized we will always be stigmatized. Goffman addresses this. It says a lot about our society that what Goffman wrote about in 1963 about stigma is still extremely relevant today in 2014. Of course progress has been made but we’re still stuck.
Here are some quotes from the book.
“When a stranger comes into our presence, then, first appearances are likely to enable us to anticipate his category and attributes, his “social identity”…We lean on these anticipations that we have, transforming them into normative expectations, into righteously presented demands…the demands we make might better be called demands made “in effect”, and the character we impute to the individual might better be seen as an imputation made in potential retrospect…a virtual social identity. The category and attributes he could in fact be proved to possess will be called his actual social identity.” -pg.2
“…we may perceive his defensive response to his situation as a direct expression of his defect, and then see both defect and response as retribution for something he or his parents or his tribe did, and hence a justification of the way we treat him.” -pg. 6
“…member of a social category may strongly support a standard of judgement that they and others agree does not directly apply to them.” -pg. 6
“In some cases is will be possible for him to make a direct attempt to correct what he sees as the objective basis of his failing…(Where such repair is possible, what often results is not the acquisition of fully normal status, but a transformation of self from someone with a particular blemish into someone with a record of having corrected a particular blemish.) -pg. 9