Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Reef Youngreen

Second Advisor

Andrea Leverentz

Third Advisor

Jessie M. Quintero Johnson


Scholarly research on the topic of stigma has endured through half a century, formally beginning in 1963 with Goffman’s influential work, “Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity.” Since then, top researchers in a wide range of fields have contributed toward further elucidating the expansive processes of stigmatization and anti-stigma initiatives for a growing number of marginalized experiences. It is within this growing body of work, however, that inconsistencies and contradictions become more onerous and limit the scope of future research. These limitations include a) competing camps of pro- and anti-stigma initiatives toward public health aims, b) siloed approaches to anti-stigma research, and c) an overemphasis on individual- and psychological-level approaches at the expense of cultural- and moral-level frameworks. The current project argues that in failing to prioritize intersectionality, the field has expanded exponentially without means of translation in place. This project represents an attempt to understand stigma with the lessons of intersectionality in mind. In utilizing Stuart Hall’s Theory of Cultural Identity, stigma is reconceptualized as both, a relationship between an attribute and a stereotype, and as a tool used within the management of cultural identity values. Such a conceptualization is tested through two research aims. The first explores the possible cultural role perceived danger may serve; the second tests if a concept of verbal marks may play a role in stigma communication. These aims are tested with a 2 x 2 x 2 experimental survey and distributed among undergraduate college students who evaluate stigmatized, in the form of Schizophrenia and fatness, or non-stigmatized identities. Results showed that perceived danger likely does not play a significant role in evaluation across stigma subjects, and that certain elements of positive evaluative adjectives may be involved in a verbal marking process of stigma communication. The findings of this study are discussed in terms of immediate and long-term implications, the limitations that shaped the study, and recommendations for future research toward addressing such limitations.

Included in

Sociology Commons