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Positive Stigma: Examining Resilience and Empowerment in Overcoming Stigma

Margaret Shih
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 591, Positive Development: Realizing the Potential of Youth (Jan., 2004), pp. 175-185
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4127642
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Positive Stigma: Examining Resilience and Empowerment in Overcoming Stigma
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Abstract

The traditional literature on stigma focuses on identifying factors contributing to the harmful impact of stigmas on the lives of stigmatized individuals. This focus, however, cannot explain the many cases of individuals pos sessing a stigmatized identity flourishing in our society. This article investigates the processes that successful stigmatized individuals use to overcome the harmful consequences of stigmatization. Specifically, this article reviews three processes: (1) compensation; (2) strategic interpretations of the social environment; and (3) focusing on multiple identities that have been identified in the literature to help stigmatized individuals handle prejudice and discrimination. Moreover, successful individuals adopt an "empowerment" model as opposed to a "coping" model when dealing with stigma. In other words, successful individuals view overcoming the adversities associated with stigma as an empowering process, as opposed to a depleting process. This discussion underscores the importance of adopting a new approach to gain a fuller understanding of the experience of being stigmatized.

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