Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 16 Issue 6 (November/December 2006), Pages 411-503

Unravelling the contexts of stigma: from internalisation to resistance to change (pages 411-417)


This special edition on ‘Understanding and Challenging Stigma’ seeks to further our understandings of the types of representations and practices through which stigma is perpetuated, the social contexts within which they are produced and reproduced, and the possibilities for agency, resistance and intervention. In this introductory piece, we outline three broad approaches to stigma in the existing literature—individual, macro‐social and multi‐level. Aligning ourselves with the latter, we discuss how social effects become sedimented in the individual psyche in ways that often make it difficult for stigmatised group members to resist their devalued social status. This insight frames our discussion of the papers in this volume—which cover various types of stigma, drawing on research in six countries. We focus on the ways in which the papers contribute to our understandings of (i) the material, political, institutional and symbolic contexts of stigma; (ii) the possibility of resistance to stigma; and (iii) the types of interventions most likely to facilitate such resistance. We conclude that the fields of social and community psychology have a central role to play in advancing the types of understandings that are so urgently needed to inform effective multi‐level stigma‐reduction interventions. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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