Edited By Do Kyun Kim and James W. Dearing
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MARY J. BRESNAHAN,Michigan State University& JIE ZHUANG,Michigan State University
Goffman (1963) presented a conceptual guidebook for understanding stigma, but offered no plan for studying stigma systematically. Measuring stigma has continued to be elusive because stigmatizers often cloak stigma in self-report and experimental research (Earnshaw & Chaudoir, 2009). It is relatively easy to document the experience of recipients of stigma but more difficult to get stigmatizers to reveal their stigma. Smith (2007) explained that “stigma communication is the messages spread through communities to teach their members to recognize the disgraced and to react accordingly” (p. 464). The goal of this chapter is to provide a comprehensive overview of existing stigma theories and measures.
Three classes of stigma theories study perception and enactment of stigma: 1) attribution theories of stigma, 2) stigma as power disparity, and 3) stigma as a communicative event. Link and Phelan’s (2001) 5-factor model typifies the attribution approach defining 5 stigma behaviors including labeling, negative attribution, separation, status loss, and discrimination. Subsequent research has developed scales to measure these stigma behaviors (Bresnahan & Zhuang, 2011). The idea of stigma as power disparity focuses on structural and social imbalances in the creation, maintenance, and experience of stigma (Parker & Aggleton, 2003; Scambler, 2004). Positional, relational, informational, and social power inequality enables stigmatizers to enforce negative evaluation downgrading others who are afflicted with an undesirable condition. Earnshaw and Chaudoir (2009) observe that “stigma...
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