Dirty Work and Courtesy Stigma: Stigma Management Techniques among Professionals who Work with Juvenile Sex Offenders
Author: Jeff A. Asher, Jefferyasher@yahoo.com
University: University of Cincinnati, United States
Supervisor: Annulla Linders
Year of completion: 2014
Language of dissertation: English
Areas of Research: Clinical Sociology , Work , Youth
This research investigates how three distinct dirty work professions navigate the challenges of social interaction in light of courtesy stigma resulting from their work with the same tainted population, juvenile sex offenders. Through semi-structured interviews, workers were asked to talk about how they make decisions about disclosing their work to others and how they manage potentially negative reactions to their work. Using their responses, I identified two disclosure strategies—disclosure avoidance and limited disclosure. I addition to the disclosure strategies I discovered three major categories of stigma management techniques—reframing, recalibrating, and refocusing. This research contributes to the stigma scholarship by analyzing the response patterns of three different categories of dirty workers, who work with the same tainted population, to determine stigma management techniques. In addition, this study explores gender differences both within and between the three categories of workers to determine stigma management techniques specific to men and women. The men and women within the three professions used disclosure strategies, however, men were more likely to utilize disclosure avoidance strategies with their family. The stigma management technique predominantly used by each gender and profession, with the exception of male probation/parole officers, was reframing. Through the analysis of occupation and gender, this study contributes to our understanding of stigma management by demonstrating the importance of utilizing multiple and sequential stigma management strategies to manage social identity in light of courtesy stigma.