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Towards a Sunlit Path

Toward α “Sunlit Path”: Stigma Identity Management As α Source of Localized Social Change Through Interaction

 by Brent Lyons, Simon Pek and Jennifer Wessel

Published online before print March 1, 2017, doi: 10.5465/amr.2015.0189
ACAD MANAGE REV October 1, 2017 vol. 42 no. 4 618-636

We articulate a process through which individuals with stigmatized identities can be agents of social change towards the acceptance and/or valuing of their identities in their work groups. We posit that whether and how individuals communicate to others about their stigmatized identity (i.e., stigma identity management) can enable them to overcome their power disadvantage by influencing the meanings that the stigmatized identity and comparative dominant identities take on in negotiations of identity meanings. Drawing on theories of negotiated order, identity threat, and stigma identity management we describe how changes in identity meanings emerge from an ongoing process of negotiations between stigma holders and their coworkers - negotiations that are influenced by and inform symbolic power relations and shared identity meanings in the group. We extend understandings of stigma identity management strategies by expanding beyond the current focus on outcomes for individual stigma holders towards how such strategies can change the local social context in which stigma holders and their coworkers interact.

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