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Write chapter summaries on Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity by Erving Goffman and explain how this book has contributed to society.

Goffman’s Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity explains how if a person has one trait outside of the social norm, it can “spoil” that person’s entire identity. This means that the person is stigmatized, meaning socially discredited. Goffman’s work contributed to society in that it introduced social scientists to nuanced understandings of stigmatization, social identity, and deviance.

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Goffman opens this book by examining how stigmatization comes to be and how it relates to social identity. He then looks at what goes into forming a sense of self and how stigmatized people are impacted by existing outside of conceptions of a “normal” self. Goffman then dives deeper into...

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Goffman opens this book by examining how stigmatization comes to be and how it relates to social identity. He then looks at what goes into forming a sense of self and how stigmatized people are impacted by existing outside of conceptions of a “normal” self. Goffman then dives deeper into what shapes stigmatization, concluding that social norms impact everyone’s point of view on what is normal. He finds that when an individual has a stigmatized trait, that person's identity is seen as “spoiled,” meaning that all of his traits are overlooked, even those that adhere to social norms. Goffman ends by discussing the relationship between his focused examination of social stigma and the more general concept of social deviance.

This text was critical in shaping how social scientists, and people in general, think about society. It was especially important in how it introduced nuanced discussions of social stigma, deviance, and societal norms to the field of sociology. In particular, Goffman’s explanation of how one stigmatized trait can “spoil” one’s identity allowed people to understand the potential mental and physical impacts of stigmatization. For example, people’s understandings of how to help individuals who are HIV positive are rooted in this in-depth understanding of stigma.

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The sociologist Erving Goffman’s book Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, written in 1963, is an analysis of people within society who are considered abnormal based on their social identity. Goffman’s goal was to understand how these stigmatized persons feel in relation to so-called “normal” people. Goffman conducted extensive case studies and collective autobiographies to understand how people who are stigmatized by society feel.

Goffman theorized three types of stigma: stigma of character traits, physical stigma, and group identity stigma. Stigma of character traits refers to such things as experiencing mental illness or addiction. Physical stigma refers to things like body deformities, and group identity stigma refers to people who are ostracized because of things like religious practices or race and ethnicity.

Goffman’s work was very important in raising awareness about stigma and challenging the marginalization of people based on character traits, physical appearance, or group identity.

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