• Supporting those affected by the misery of stigma and exclusion

The social stigma process

Social stigma is a social process involving external social stigma (stigmatizing someone else, the stigmatizer) and internal social stigma (being stigmatized or stigmatizing oneself, the target or person or people being stigmatized by others) which can happen for various reasons (see Social Stigma Defined). This is a social process which is closely connected to cultural decline and social fragmentation, because it creates social division. Social stigma is also a leading cause of social exclusion.

While a lot of social stigma takes place as a result of ignorance and a lack of awareness by people who are unaware that they are stigmatizing someone else, primarily social stigma is very much about the desire for domination and control over another person or group of people. This is done for two reasons. The first is to access social, economic or political power for oneself and the second is to disempower the target or stigmatized person in a way which places them at a disadvantage, marginalizes them, or excludes them altogether from society or a community.

Social stigma differs from bullying in that it is impersonal and directed towards anyone who conforms to a negative stereotype, label or simplified category which are based on existing social or cultural beliefs. While these beliefs may be personal, or personalized, they are generally beliefs which are shared between people who have no connection to each other. Therefore it can also be differentiated from 'preferences' and someone not liking someone else for personal reasons.