Do gamekeepers experience stigma as a result of their occupation?
(2013) Do gamekeepers experience stigma as a result of their occupation?, no. 82.
This research explores the extent to which gamekeepers experience stigma as a result of their occupation. The research is conducted within a context in which, recently, some gamekeepers have been prosecuted for wildlife crime, about which there has been considerable media interest. A phenomenological enquiry, in conjunction with concepts emanating from symbolic interactionism, constitute the theoretical and methodological landscape in which this study was conducted. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and the data generated were subjected to a rigorous process of thematic analysis. Applying Hughes (1958) concept of dirty work together with stigma as conceived by Goffman (1963) in addition to a the wider conceptual analysis of stigma developed by Link & Phelan (2001), findings reveal that gamekeepers do, indeed, experience stigma and discrimination as a result of combined influences. These influences which include conservation practice, legislation and embedded sociocultural norms, impact on the lived experience of the gamekeeper both in their daily routines and in face to face interaction with others. Courtesy stigma as defined by Goffman (1963) was also experienced by family members. Social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner 1979) provided a paradigm from which to explain the behaviour of a dominant societal group, the RSPB, in relation to the minority occupational group of gamekeepers.