Pride and prejudice--identity and stigma in leprosy work.

Harris, K; (2011) Pride and prejudice--identity and stigma in leprosy work. Leprosy review, 82 (2). pp. 135-46. ISSN 0305-7518

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: This article sets out to expand the way stigma, and those affected by it, are understood within leprosy discourse and to apply these insights to the analysis of the experiences of leprosy workers. The term stigma is often used simply as shorthand for 'negative social experience'. However, to reduce the negative aspects of complex everyday life experiences to a single word is often overly simplistic and can serve to objectify, rather than illuminate, the experiences of those affected. This article argues that in order to understand the lived experience of stigma we must come to understand stigma as an ongoing, dialectical social process and develop an approach to stigma that analytically separates stigma from its negative social consequences. The article applies these insights to data collected during 14 months of fieldwork with front-line leprosy workers in India, which suggests that falling leprosy prevalence rates and a rapidly changing policy landscape have led to leprosy workers feeling marginalised and stigmatised within their own organisation. The article argues that, rather than seeing stigma merely as a negative process in which leprosy workers are passive victims, we must recognise that stigma also plays a key role in the creation and maintenance of leprosy workers' identity and is utilised as a strategic tool in the struggle for influence between different groups within the organisation. Finally, the article argues for the benefit of expanding our understanding of stigma across public health and of applying these insights to designing future interventions.<br/>

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Global Health and Development
PubMed ID: 21888138
Web of Science ID: 293716300006


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