Managing Stigma: Young People, Asthma, and the Politics of Chronic Illness

Lee F. Monaghan, Jonathan Gabe

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In this article we explore the relationship between asthma and stigma, drawing on 31 interviews with young people (aged 5-17) in Ireland. Participants with mild to moderate asthma were recruited from Traveller and middle-class settled communities. Themes derived from an abductive approach to data analysis and a critical appreciation of Goffmanesque sociology, include: asthma as a discreditable stigma, negative social reactions (real, imagined and anticipated), and stigma management. Going beyond a personal tragedy model, we reflect upon macro-social structures (e.g. ethnicity, class, gender) which underlie stigma and the management of a potentially spoiled identity. This raises issues about the politics of chronic illness, embodying health identities and efforts to tackle stigma in neoliberal times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Early online date21 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2018


  • asthma
  • stigma
  • Goffman
  • medical sociology
  • young people
  • inequality
  • qualitative interviews
  • Ireland

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