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A Critical Review of Erving Goffman's Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, 1963

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  • Essay length: 1097 words
  • Submitted: 31/03/2006
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GCSE Sociology

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A Critical Review of Erving Goffman's Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, 1963. Published by Penguin Books London, 1990.

In his preface Goffman states his intentions to use 'popular work' on stigma as a basis for his own review and expansion within his preoccupation of 'social information,' the information an individual directly conveys about himself. The book opens with a letter to a "lonelyhearts" column from a girl born without a nose which concludes 'Ought I commit suicide?' This sets the tone for a book which aims to be a comprehensive and illuminating excursion into the situation of persons who are unable to conform to standards that society calls "normal."

The content of this text is fundamentally textual and is clearly elucidated throughout by real-life anecdotes from varied sources. Citations include revered socio-psychological writers and researchers such as Orbach and Henrich and Kriegel, journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol and other texts such as autobiographies. This link to recognisable situations is appealing and makes his line of reasoning arrant. His exposition poses a basic principle; that the stigmatized individual has a simple choice regarding the attributes he or she has that

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