Steven's Reviews > Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity

Stigma by Erving Goffman
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's review
Nov 11, 2009

liked it

Stigma was revolutionary when it was written, but may seem a bit dated today - especially in the assumptions about homosexuality.

In the historical context, when stigmas (of any type) were seen as indelible and ultimately personal flaws, this text was incendiary. It systematically examines the way that our society constructs stigmas... and thus exposes exactly how meaningless they are.

For this reason - the easy-to-read rigorous exploding of the idea that stigmas really "mean" anything or have intrinsic value - the book is worth reading.

To steal a line from Marcuse, though, once you expose the "could", it implies a "should". By exposing that stigmas are meaningless, Goffman implies that perhaps stigmas should be removed... but never quite goes there. That left me somewhat disappointed.

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