The stigma turbine : a theoretical framework for conceptualizing and contextualizing marketplace stigma

Mirabito, Ann M. and Otnes, Cele C. and Crosby, Elizabeth and Wooten, David B. and Machin, Jane E. and Pullig, Chris and Adkins, Natalie Ross and Dunnett, Susan and Hamilton, Kathy and Thomas, Kevin D. and Yeh, Marie A. and Davis, Cassandra and Gollnhofer, Johanna F. and Grover, Aditi and Matias, Jess and Mitchell, Natalie A. and Ndichu, Edna G. and Sayarh, Nada and Velagaleti, Sunaina (2016) The stigma turbine : a theoretical framework for conceptualizing and contextualizing marketplace stigma. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 35 (2). pp. 170-184. ISSN 0743-9156 (

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Stigmas, or discredited personal attributes, emanate from social perceptions of physical characteristics, aspects of character, and “tribal” associations (e.g., race; Goffman 1963). Extant research emphasizes the perspective of the stigma target, with some scholars exploring how social institutions shape stigma. Yet the ways stakeholders within the socio-commercial sphere create, perpetuate, or resist stigma remain overlooked. We introduce and define marketplace stigma as the labeling, stereotyping, and devaluation by and of commercial stakeholders (consumers, companies and their employees, stockholders, institutions) and their offerings (products, services, experiences). We offer the Stigma Turbine (ST) as a unifying conceptual framework that locates marketplace stigma within the broader sociocultural context, and illuminates its relationship to forces that exacerbate or blunt stigma. In unpacking the ST, we reveal the critical role market stakeholders can play in (de)stigmatization, explore implications for marketing practice and public policy, and offer a research agenda to further our understanding of marketplace stigma and stakeholder welfare.