CFP Reclaiming Stigma

Call for Manuscripts:  Special Issue of Communication Studies
“Reclaiming Stigma: Alternative Explorations of the Construct”

Guest Editors:  Mike Allen (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)  & Jessica J. Eckstein (Western Connecticut State University)
Submission Deadline:  June 1, 2013

Communication research on identity issues tends to nominally reference seminal works from previous decades and then proceed to study specific, affected groups. Particularly in cases of research on stigmatized identities, scholars tend to cite Goffman (1963). With few exceptions, the nuances of this construct – a subject of potentially great interest to communication scholars – are rarely explored.

Despite the advent of increasingly immediate forms of interpersonal and public communication, the use of labels, interpersonal behaviors, and complicated rhetorical constructions related to stigma have become more taken-for-granted by scholars using methods of social framing and influence. In descending order of typical approaches by Communication scholars, published research has examined (a) if and then who is stigmatized, (b) how it affects that particular group of people, and (c) what can or should be done about it, with the latter technique inclining toward simplistic prescription of a “stop doing it” admonishment. Missing from this discussion is examination of the construction of stigma.

Rather than simplistically labeling a group as “stigmatized” and/or jumping to the assumption that this label is always negative, a more complex examination would search for the underlying mechanisms at play. This special issue of Communication Studies seeks to address this dearth in the field by seeking diverse scholarship to scrutinize the issue and provoke scholarly controversy by exploring the nature of stigma. For example:
*When can stigma be good? In what ways might it be productive to reinforce stigma of particular groups? Perhaps some identities (e.g., Homophobes? Misogynists? Abusers? KKK? Liberals? Conservatives?
Celebrities?) should be stigmatized. What would be the implications of those practices?
*When is stigma bad? What are the communicative implications when using stigma? Do stigmas reflect a shorthand attribution of group membership?
*Can an individual be stigmatized without reference to group membership?
*How has stigma operated, in past or present-day cultures, desirably?
*If we should stigmatize, how would we decide who/what to stigmatize?
*Who, or what, would determine which stigmas to enforce – interpersonally and/or culturally?
*Is stigma really an arbitrary decision made to effect serious, negative consequences (e.g., social exclusion/discrimination, punishment)?
*If stigma is a created and fixable difference, what are actual, feasible means (i.e., applied stigma management tactics – personal and political) to address interpersonal stigma for those affected – interpersonally and societally?

All scholars of Communication embracing diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives are invited. Original works referencing current, societal exemplars are encouraged. Both full-length manuscripts exploring these phenomena (through application of personal research or analyses) and shorter critical thought-pieces are welcome. Whatever the approach, this issue will go beyond simple designation of stigmatized identities to explore the stigma in all its intricacies – standard and contentious.

All manuscripts will be subjected to a process of blind peer-review.
Questions about the appropriateness of a potential submission or for additional information should be directed to Dr. Jessica Eckstein.

Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2013. Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association or the Chicago Manual of Style. Submissions should conform to the Instructions for Authors followed by Communication Studies and be sent electronically to the journal via the ScholarOne Manuscripts website. NOTE: All finalized submissions should specify “For Stigma Special Issue” in the online forms (e.g., cover letter, Special Issue checkbox, etc.). If you have any special requests or need additional information on this journal’s submission process, please contact the journal’s editor, Robert Littlefield.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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