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Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity Paperback – 14 May 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (14 May 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140124756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140124750
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Erving Goffman (1922-1982) was one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century. He was Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The Greeks, who were apparently strong on visual aids, originated the term stigma to refer to bodily signs designed to expose something unusual and bad about the moral status of the signifier. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
For those not familiar with Goffman's work he is the acceptable face of Sociology. He avoids the bogus science which has given the whole enterprise a bad name but captures the essence of what makes the study of social interraction so fascinating. The Stigmas covered include disabilities, social deviance or sexual orientation. Stigma proposes a basic principle: That the stigmatised individual has a simple choice regarding the attributes that he or she has that makes them different. They can either control the information by not letting so called 'normals' i.e. everyone else, know what their secret is if its not obviously visible; or they can let it be known and manage the resulting tension. They can 'pass' i.e. pretend to be normal while harbouring the knowledge that their stigma makes them distinct and different. It is Goffman's extraordinary insight and accurate description that makes his brand of Sociology so engaging. You will read this and say 'Aha' when you recognise that things you thought only you had observed in the minutely detailed interplay of human relations have been bagged, tagged and described in the most accurate and well documented manner. Nobody should go through life without at least once dipping in to the sharply observed world of this great 20th century observer.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gerry on 22 April 2004
Format: Paperback
Although this is a slim book it is more rich in detail and insight thanmany texts twice its size. Goffman is both a genius and a brilliantwriter. His theory is clearly elucidated throughout the text by real lifeanecdotes. The book opens with a letter to a "lonelyhearts" column from agirl "born without a nose" which concludes "Ought I commit suicide?" Thissets the tone for a book that pulls no punches and comprehensively addresses the alienation of those different from what is perceived to be"normal". I hope that this text is being promoted at secondary schoollevel, and it is certainly essential reading for anyone whose workinvolves dealing with people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Banshee on 21 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book when I searched under Disability. I hadn't read many other books on the topic before, but I felt this one covered the issue of how everyone deals with 'the elephant in the room' in social situations. It considered how disabled and non-disabled people view the disability and what each thinks the other might think. So that was interesting. The book wasn't solely concerned with disability and also dealt with other stigmatised groups (criminals, for instance). But I did feel the language (the word 'cripple' came up several times) was a bit un-PC for the 21st century (I think the book was written in the early 1960s). And the attitude to homosexuality is also outmoded.
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By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Goffman wrote a seminal book about Stigma which connects more to Foucualt than Marx in his perception of how institions such as prisons, psychiatrists as well as communities pass judgement upon what constitutes the norm and what is outside it. In this respect, Goffman also connects to Bourdieu's habitus.

Looking at homosexuality and the stigma applied, which has not been entirely erased - along with prostitution, disability and race, he ranges across the big themes that were to dominate the late 1970's as Gay rights, Women's Rights, Civil Rights and Disability Rights all changed the world due to the stigmas they faced. Goffman's book, handed out on sociology courses must have lit the touchpaper, because here was someone inhabiting the skin of those who were ostracised and providing a language of expression previously denied. This is one of those little slim volumes written by US academics that just lit up the world during this era. Howard Becker is another.

Goffman fuses psychology with sociology to transcend the bland theorising of both to deliver something which offers hope to those who have been castigated. Some of the language is non PC, but try reading Mark Twain.

Within this book are more ideas than most can put together in a life time. Reflecting upon them you can see how the world has changed, but you can also wince, because these labels are no longer applied to women, blacks and disabled but they are used against the homeless, the drug user, alcoholic and the criminal. These people have been cast adrift by the "normals" along with the sex worker who still hangs out with the Bohemians, so the world has shifted its....a little.
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Hard work to read and you need to remember it was written 50 years ago . The language and attitudes would not be acceptable today. Having said that there are some very keen observations there which to me seem common sense but not everyone has direct experience of stigma
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By a.simpson12@ntlworld.com on 2 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
this book is excellent for those interested in sociology or psycology. Good for gaining an understanding as to how those with disabilities or a 'difference' from others and how their and their families behaviour may be affected.
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By Ronnie on 14 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is very interesting. Anyone working on stigma should read it as Goffman is very useful in this area. The price was good and it was in great condition.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 May 1999
Format: Paperback
Although written at a time when we thought different, and certainly spoke in different terms about people with sensory and physical disabilities, this is essential stuff for anyone interested in the interface between "normals" and excluded groups in society. Goffman's easy to read yet informative style is backed-up by plenty of anecdotal evidence.
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