Disentangling Disease Stigma: Conceptual Counters and Methodological Challenges

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 2:35 PM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Sumesh SS , Sociology, Tezpur University, Tezpur, India
This paper briefly examines the core social science literature surrounding stigma in general and disease stigma in particular to explore the social matrix that stigmatise and exclude the People Living with HIV/AIDS. The multiplicity of social science approaches for understanding the correlation between social stigma and exclusion, either resort to the trap of functionalism or in the individualization of the problem or argue for a unidirectional cause and effect relation. The conceptual inflation in the field of stigma research also confined the strategies to counter the stigma within the vicious circle of exclusion limiting the scope for out of the box social engineering. This paper argues for a multidimensional understanding of the stigmatisation process that addresses the functionality without functionalism and without resorting to excessive individualization. It is vital to distinguish between what we can call HIV/AIDS stigma, and what we should call HIV/AIDS related social exclusion. How the linkages operate; uni/multi- dimensional? It is also important to unravel the social process operating at different levels of reality and how the old inequalities play a significant role in producing and reproducing the new forms of social exclusion where the Right to Live is under threat. The paper calls for an integrated paradigm for understanding the social process of stigma and exclusion and try to explain the dynamics of stigma within and outside the matrix of micro-macro versus subjective-objective axes of social reality. The empirical exploration with this framework requires a re-examination of the existing methodological practices in stigma research.