Nobody becomes stigmatised ‘all at once’: An interactionist account of stigma on a modernist council estate

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This article examines how residents experience and account for stigma at Claremont Court, a modernist social housing scheme built in Edinburgh in the early 1960s. Although listed as having special architectural interest, the building has been subject to disinvestment and has a mix of residents, including council and private renters as well as owner-occupiers. This article explores micro-distinctions between residents, showing how the categories ‘stigmatiser’ and ‘stigmatised’ are not as rigid as we might expect. It then considers stigma
associated not with residents but, rather, the building itself, and argues that closer attention to the relationship between the material and social is required in order to understand residents’ complex articulations of belonging. Finally, residents’ views on dirt and rubbish are explored, showing how they use these signifiers of stigma to reveal concerns about shame and respectability. Responding to the call, in vol. 66 issue 4 of this journal, for more sociological
understandings of stigma, this article argues that interactionist approaches offer an important alternative, one that highlights how stigma is negotiated, resisted and apportioned in everyday life. This perspective reveals residents’ practices in interaction with the material environment, as well as the ways in which stigmatisation processes work simultaneously in upward and downward directions, rather than in a unidirectional way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1385
Number of pages16
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number6
Early online date2 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • belonging
  • community
  • interactionist sociology
  • social housing
  • stigma


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