‘He hath the French pox’: stigma, social value and social exclusion
Chan, Kit Y
Gifford, Sandra M
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Reidpath, D.D., Chan, K.Y., Gifford, S.M. and Allotey, P. (2005) ‘“He hath the French pox”: stigma, social value and social exclusion’, Sociology of Health and Illness, 27(4), pp. 468–489. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2005.00452.x.
Goods and resources are finite, and social forces heavily pattern their distribution. One of the principal mechanisms for shaping the distribution of resources is by regulating entitlement to community membership itself. By restricting groups’ membership of community, so access to social goods and resources diminishes, which in turn has a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the excluded groups. It is argued here that community membership is determined on the basis of the perceived social value of groups and individuals and stigmatisation is the marking of individuals and groups who are ‘unworthy’ of social investment. Using the notion of reciprocity we show how groups may be stigmatised and socially excluded as a mechanism for protecting limited social resources from exploitation. This perspective provides an empirically testable framework for the understanding of stigma and social exclusion that goes beyond the largely descriptive work that currently populates the field. We illustrate the process of stigmatisation and social exclusion and discuss how this suggests new styles of intervention, as well as new directions for research.