Couch Award Winner: Stigma Resistance in Online Communities

Daphna Yeshua-Katz

Abstract


Media scholars often employ concepts from Goffman’s dramaturgical approach to study online communication among stigmatized individuals as a “back stage” behavior. However, recent research of the pro-ana, an online community for people with eating disorders, challenges this view. In addition to resistance of stigma associated with their mental illness, members of the pro-ana community challenge opposition to their online presence. As a result, while community members go online to receive support and share experience, they also engage in efforts to construct group boundaries by labeling those who do not belong. Therefore, to benefit from Goffman’s framework, this paper suggests approaching performances in online communities of stigmatized individuals as multidimensional.

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