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-  2018 

Addressing Recognition Gaps: Destigmatization and the Reduction of Inequality

DOI: 10.1177/0003122418773775

Keywords: destigmatization,recognition,cultural membership,stigmatization,cultural process,cultural repertoires,identity

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This Presidential Address offers elements for a systematic and cumulative study of destigmatization, or the process by which low-status groups gain recognition and worth. Contemporary sociologists tend to focus on inequality in the distribution of resources, such as occupations, education, and wealth. Complementing this research, this address draws attention to “recognition gaps,” defined as disparities in worth and cultural membership between groups in a society. I first describe how neoliberalism promotes growing recognition gaps. Then, drawing on research on stigmatized groups across several societies, I analyze how experiences of stigma and destigmatization are enabled and constrained by various contextual factors and actors, including institutions, cultural repertoires, knowledge workers, and social movement activists. I conclude by proposing a research agenda for the sociology of recognition and destigmatization, and by sketching how social scientists, policymakers, organizations, and citizens can contribute to the reduction of recognition gaps


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