The Implications of Stigma for Institutionalized Violence

Cameron Ross McCordic


The retirement of the stigma term is currently up for debate among advocacy groups. This debate questions the relevance and utility of the term for the conceptualization of discriminatory treatment against individuals who deviate from some societal norm. In Goffman’s (1963) seminal conceptualization of stigma, he described how stigma can be used to demonstrate an individual’s disqualified humanity. Further research has suggested that stigma can be used both to represent the disqualification of an individual’s humanity and to create humanity disqualification by inciting discrimination. While discrimination is a common result of stigma, there has been little discussion in academia regarding the use of stigma to promote the discrimination of certain groups or individuals by propagating prejudicial ideologies. This discrimination has implications for the justification and sanctioning of violence by institutions of power. Due to the fact that this is an area of stigma research which is largely uninvestigated, it would be premature to retire the stigma term without fully understanding its implications. This article will examine the implications of stigma for state sanctioned violence and review the limitations of this subject as a research topic.


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