Health Services, Systems and Policy Seminar Series: Stigma and the stigmatization process in organizations

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Speaker: Dr. Brent Lyons, York University

Abstract: Stigma is a discrediting social evaluation that devalues individual workers, and stigma is pervasive in organizational life. Through the stigmatization of certain social identities (e.g., disability, sexual identity) and “dirty” occupations (e.g., cleaners, sex workers), many workers face stigma at work and must navigate daily interactions to avoid its negative consequences. In this talk, I integrate research on individual and organizational approaches to stigma management, which are efforts aimed at mitigating the negative consequences of stigma. I also speak to more recent and emerging research on de-stigmatization, which are efforts through which stigmatized workers aim to gain recognition, acceptance and worth. I present results from a series of experimental, survey, and qualitative studies that outline how and why certain de-stigmatization strategies are more or less effective. In doing so, I highlight how and why non-stigmatized/privileged workers and also organizational context are involved in shaping de-stigmatization processes. In examining stigma and (de) stigmatization, I elucidate ideas for practical applications toward social change in organizations.

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