What Do You Understand by ‘Stigma’ and Do You Agree That Social Policies Can Stigmatize People? Essay

In this essay I am going to give my own understanding of stigma and explain how I think that social policies can stigmatize people. I am also going to discuss the problems that individuals may have if they avail of these social policies. My understanding of stigma is that it is something that has a bad reputation linked to situations, characteristics or people.

Also my understanding of social policy is a policy put in place to help manage social issues for the well-being of society. In my own opinion I believe that people who are entitled to these policies can be stigmatized by them, as other people might think that it is wrong that some people are getting special benefits just because they are from a certain background or they do not have enough money to live comfortably (average standard of living).

Some people in society might feel as if they are being treated unfairly because they cannot avail of these policies, according to Patricia Kennedy (2012) in social policy written matter that social exclusion is often linked to poverty, Peter Townsends’s (1979) relative approach to poverty emphasizes exclusion: ‘…Individuals, families, and groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities, and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary, or are at least widely encouraged, or approved in societies to which they belong.

Their resources are so scarcely below those commanded by the average individual or family that they are in effect excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities’. This would mean that then the people who avail of social policies would be a part of this group as many social policies aim for improving living for the poor, for the people who cannot afford to live a happy and healthy life.

They can have a bad reputation because they cannot support themselves or maybe even their family, so they might have to get welfare, unemployment benefits or affordable housing initiatives this can cause exclusion which means that they would be left out because they do not have the income for ordinary living patterns so they would be frowned upon by others who are better off.


Patricia Kennedy (2012), lecture notes November 9th, Social Exclusion, UCD Peter Townsend (1979) Poverty in the United Kingdom: a survey of household resources and standards of living, London: Penguin. p. 31