The Paradox of Destigmatization

Brian Hathaway, PhD Candidate at The Wharton School

Abstract: This project examines destigmatization, or “the process by which low-status groups gain recognition and worth” (Lamont, 2018: 419). Destigmatization of identity is a central goal of egalitarian social movements. Yet destigmatization represents a paradox because while destigmatization benefits identity groups as a whole and creates opportunities for many individual members, organizations perceived as belonging that identity group may suffer. Specifically, I argue that as institutionalized prejudice is reduced, minority communities will experience a reduction in two key forms of social capital: bounded solidarity and enforceable trust.