The Stigma Complex

TitleThe Stigma Complex
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPescosolido BA, Martin JK
EditorCook K.S, Massey D.S
Book TitleAnnual Review of Sociology, Vol 41
Series TitleAnnual Review of Sociology
Volume41
Pagination87-116
ISBN Number978-0-8243-2241-0
Accession NumberWOS:000359855300005
Abstract

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, research on stigma has continued. Building on conceptual and empirical work, the recent period clarifies new types of stigmas, expansion of measures, identification of new directions, and increasingly complex levels. Standard beliefs have been challenged, the relationship between stigma research and public debates reconsidered, and new scientific foundations for policy and programs suggested. We begin with a summary of the most recent Annual Review articles on stigma, which reminded sociologists of conceptual tools, informed them of developments from academic neighbors, and claimed findings from the early period of "resurgence." Continued (even accelerated) progress has also revealed a central problem. Terms and measures are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion and decreasing accumulated knowledge. Drawing from this work but focusing on the past 14 years of stigma research (including mental illness, sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS, and race/ethnicity), we provide a theoretical architecture of concepts (e.g., prejudice, experienced/received discrimination), drawn together through a stigma process (i.e., stigmatization), based on four theoretical premises. Many characteristics of the mark (e.g., discredited, concealable) and variants (i.e., stigma types and targets) become the focus of increasingly specific and multidimensional definitions. Drawing from complex and systems science, we propose a stigma complex, a system of interrelated, heterogeneous parts bringing together insights across disciplines to provide a more realistic and complicated sense of the challenge facing research and change efforts. The Framework Integrating Normative Influences on Stigma (FINIS) offers a multilevel approach that can be tailored to stigmatized statuses. Finally, we outline challenges for the next phase of stigma research, with the goal of continuing scientific activity that enhances our understanding of stigma and builds the scientific foundation for efforts to reduce intolerance.

DOI10.1146/annurev-soc-071312-145702