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date: 27 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that an understanding of social identity processes is critical to understand when and how stigma affects health. This chapter presents a social identity analysis of the relationship between stigma and health and starts from the premise that it is particularly difficult for individuals who belong to stigmatized groups to derive a positive identity from their social group memberships. However, when individuals turn to the stigmatized group, identify with it, and draw social support from others within it, their health will be buffered against some of the negative consequences of discrimination because group memberships—and the social identities that are derived from them—act as psychological resources. Perceptions of the broader sociostructural context that affect appraisals of discrimination and coping with stigma play an important role in determining whether the curing properties of group memberships are unlocked, turning the curse of belonging to a stigmatized group into a cure.

Keywords: group-based discrimination, social identity approach, self-categorization, pervasiveness of discrimination, legitimacy of discrimination, group boundary permeability, social cure

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