Digital Degradation: Stigma Management in the Internet Age

Shadd Maruna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2410 Downloads (Pure)


The concept of stigma and labeling has been central to the sociology of punishment since at least the writings of Durkheim and Mead. However, the vast transformations brought on by the expansion of the internet over the past 20 years suggest the need for revisiting the dynamics of labeling. While the power to apply extralegal criminal labels is now in the hands of many, stigma in the form of a digital footprint is arguably more difficult than ever to escape. This paper draws on two small studies to better understand these new dynamics of labeling: a discourse analysis of the motivations of online labelers and interviews with individuals struggling to cope with online labels. This evidence describes how the internet has become a fertile space for the expression of public anxieties about social problems and a digital prison that can discourage the labeled from engaging with the processes of reintegration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113
Number of pages133
JournalPunishment & Society
Issue number1
Early online date21 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • stigma
  • labeling
  • Desistance
  • criminal records
  • technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital Degradation: Stigma Management in the Internet Age'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this