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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The notion of stigma refers to a perceived blemish or devaluation of a person or group, based upon a characteristic that a society (or a significant subset of it) deems unworthy. Individual-level stigma within organizations can arise from many different sources—the organization (e.g. corporate scandal, tainted products/services), the occupation (e.g. dirty work jobs), or the person him/herself (e.g. disabilities, mental illness, obesity). Given that stigma can underpin workplace interactions, the authors explore how it may have considerable consequences for an individual’s identity and perceived image. Indeed, they argue that stigma can affect all three levels of individual identity (collective, relational, and personal). They show how individual- and group-level stigma has been treated in the organizational literature, including research on individual-level and collective-level tactics to counteract the image and/or the effects of stigma at work. They also suggest how stigma research might move forward, especially in light of its close conceptual relations to identity and image.

Keywords: stigma, dirty work, organizational stigma, individual identity, taint, scandal, image

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