Social Construction of Stigma and its Implications – Observations from COVID-19
27 Pages Posted: 13 May 2020 Publication Status: Preprint
Infectious diseases such as plague, yellow fever, influenza etc. have a well-established history of carrying stigma. Such stigma is shaped not only by the disease characteristics, but also by the social and institutional processes, which create a condition conducive to discrimination, hostility and social disharmony. This paper investigates the behavioral and socio-political processes which influenced the production of stigma in COVID-19 and its possible implications on public health interventions and the society at large. Utilizing cases from India, three key themes are explored - stigma as an active barrier in pandemic response, stigma and marginalization and stigma as a political tool. Drawing from the observations, the paper presents a conceptual model on the implications of COVID-19 stigma and argues for greater recognition of stigma as a major impediment towards prevention and control of infectious diseases.
Keywords: Stigma, COVID-19, Discrimination, Exclusion, Polarization
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