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Does stigma always have negative consequences?

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Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract The aim of this study was to explore and understand the phenomenon of stigmatization and the socio‐cultural processes where a stigmatized group may enjoy the ongoing process of stigmatization against them. Generally, research works on “stigma” show that stigmas have negative effects on the stigmatized group. The stigmatized groups often claim that people are prejudiced against them, and therefore, they face discrimination, alienation, and comparatively reduced well‐being. Besides this, stigmatized groups also face exclusion and marginalization especially with respect to poverty. In the Indian cultural context, stigma is attached to certain notions and beliefs that are used by stigmatized groups to earn their livelihood. These groups affirm such statuses that accredit them as socially and/or economically marginalized groups and use the associated social beliefs for their advantage. It can, therefore, be said that they feel pride in accepting the stigma associated with their identities. To understand these socio‐psychological processes, three stigmatized groups, namely, eunuchs, beggars, and reserved category students were sampled, and data was collected using ethnography. Upon analysing the collected data, results revealed that eunuchs and beggars use social beliefs as a means for earning a livelihood whereas reserved category students freely utilize their caste identity for privileges without hesitation in order to get good jobs, enrol in education, and/or improve their living conditions. Therefore, it can be concluded that stigma does not necessarily always have negative consequences but can also help the stigmatized group in improving their overall quality of life. - Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, EarlyView.