Race as stigma: positioning the stigmatized as agents, not objects.
Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 16
Using material from three qualitative studies into the social and psychological consequences of racism, this paper explores the insights gained from conceptualizing race as stigma. Not only does this shed light on the construction and contestation of racism in the lives of the research participants, the material presented raises important issues for a social psychology of stigma more generally. These include an assessment of the embodiment of stigma, the ideological construction of stigma within particular histories, the impact of stigma on identity and the ways in which we collectively contest and resist stigma. While acknowledging how stigma, particularly the stigma of race, acts to deny humanity, agency and liberty, I illustrate how stigma is collectively constructed, institutionalized and resisted in social and political relations. I conclude that a crucial part of the psychology of stigma must be a focus on the possibilities for communities to contest and transform representations and practices that stigmatize; that is, we need to explore the possibilities and conditions for stigmatized communities as agents and not (only) as objects or victims of stigma.
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