What makes somebody a Loser, a person doomed to unfulfilled dreams and humiliation? Nobody is born to lose, and yet failure embodies our worst fears. The Loser is our national bogeyman, and his history over the past two hundred years reveals the dark side of success, how economic striving reshaped the self and soul of America.
From colonial days to the Columbine tragedy, Scott Sandage explores how failure evolved from a business loss into a personality deficit, from a career setback to a gauge of our self-worth. From hundreds of private diaries, family letters, business records, and even early credit reports, Sandage reconstructs the dramas of real-life Willy Lomans. He unearths their confessions and denials, foolish hopes and lost faith, sticking places and changing times. Dreamers, suckers, and nobodies come to life in the major scenes of American history, like the Civil War and the approach of big business, showing how the national quest for success remade the individual ordeal of failure.
Born Losers is a pioneering work of American cultural history, which connects everyday attitudes and anxieties about failure to lofty ideals of individualism and salesmanship of self. Sandage's storytelling will resonate with all of us as it brings to life forgotten men and women who wrestled with The Loser--the label and the experience--in the days when American capitalism was building a nation of winners.
Feelings at the Margins offers a uniquely interdisciplinary take on the contemporary phenomenon of marginalization in Indonesia and its emotional impact on affected individuals and groups. By combining anthropological, political, and historical perspectives on Indonesian particularities with more universal conclusions, this volume is sure to attract not only scholars with a regional interest in the archipelago, but also researchers more broadly concerned with the interplay between stigma, marginality, culture, and emotion. Moreover, the book’s vivid ethnographic case studies—detailing recurring acts of violence against communities based on their ethnicity, gender, sexuality, descent, and religion—and discussion of significant sociocultural and political developments in early twenty-first-century Indonesia will make it a valuable resource for scholars of social and political activism.
Winner, 2022 Alison Piepmeier Prize from the National Women’s Studies Association
In The Political Economy of Stigma, Ally Day offers a compelling critique of neoliberal medical practices in the US by coupling an analysis of HIV memoir with a critical examination of narrative medicine practice. Using insights from feminist disability studies and crip theory, Day argues that stories of illness and disability—such as HIV memoirs—operate within a political economy of stigma, which she defines as the formal and informal circulation of personal illness and disability narratives that benefits some while hindering others. On the one hand, this system decreases access to appropriate medical care for those with chronic conditions by producing narratives of personal illness that frame one’s relationship to structural inequality as a result of personal failure. On the other hand, the political economy of stigma rewards those who procure such narratives and circulate them for public consumption.
The political economy of stigma is theorized from three primary research sites: a reading group with women living with HIV, a reading group with AIDS service workers, and participant observation research and critical close reading of practices in narrative medicine. Ultimately, it is the women living with HIV who provide an alternative way to understand disability and illness narratives, a practice of differential reading that can challenge stigmatizing tropes and reconceptualize the creation, reception, and circulation of patient memoir.
In Sex Offenders, Stigma, and Social Control, Diana Rickard provides the reader with an in-depth view of six sex offenders, exploring how they manage to cope with their highly stigmatized role as social outcasts. The book explores how these individuals construct their sense of self. By placing their stories within the context of the current culture of mass incarceration and zero-tolerance, Rickard provides a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between public policy and lived experience.
Speech and Song at the Margins of Global Health tells the story of a unique Zulu gospel choir comprised of people living with HIV in South Africa, and how they maintained healthy, productive lives amid globalized inequality, international aid, and the stigma that often comes with having HIV. By singing, joking, and narrating about HIV in Zulu, the performers in the choir were able to engage with international audiences, connect with global health professionals, and also maintain traditional familial respect through the prism of performance. The focus on gospel singing in the narrative provides a holistic viewpoint on life with HIV in the later years of the pandemic, and the author’s musical engagement led to fieldwork in participants’ homes and communities, including the larger stigmatized community of infected individuals. This viewpoint suggests overlooked ways that aid recipients contribute to global health in support, counseling, and activism, as the performers set up instruments, waited around in hotel lobbies, and struck up conversations with passersby and audience members. The story of the choir reveals the complexity and inequities of global health interventions, but also the positive impact of those interventions in the crafting of community.
In Stigma Stories: Rhetoric, Lived Experience, and Chronic Illness, Molly Margaret Kessler focuses on ostomies and gastrointestinal conditions to show how stigma is nearly as central to living with chronic conditions as the conditions themselves. Drawing on a multi-year study that includes participant observations, interviews, and rhetorical engagement with public health campaigns, blogs, social media posts, and news articles, Stigma Stories advocates for a rhetorical praxiographic approach that is attuned to the rhetorical processes, experiences, and practices in which stigma is enacted or countered.
Engaging interdisciplinary conversations from the rhetoric of health and medicine, disability studies, narrative medicine, and sociology, Kessler takes an innovative look at how stigma functions on individual, interpersonal, and societal levels. In doing so, Kessler reveals how stories and lived experiences have much to teach us not only about how stigma functions but also about how it can be dismantled.
Honorable Mention from 2000 The Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Awards
Individuals with a mental illnesses—such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression—have a double burden, Otto Wahl writes. Not only must they cope with disabling disorders, but they also must contend with the negative attitudes of the public toward those disorders. To truly understand the full extent of this stigma, we need to hear from the consumers (the term used in this book for people with mental illness) themselves. Telling is Risky Business is the first book to examine what these people have to say about their own experiences of stigma.
The center of Wahl’s research was a nationwide survey in which mental health consumers across the United States were asked, both through questionnaires and interviews, to tell about their experiences of stigma and discrimination. The research comes to life as many of the over 1,300 respondents’ acute observations are reported directly, in their own words.
Telling is Risky Business vividly covers topics such as isolation, rejection, discouragement, and discrimination. Consumers also offer perceptive observations of how our society depicts people with mental illness. The book ends with suggestions for strategies and coping; an invaluable section on resources available for fighting stigma guarantees its place on many bookshelves. As Laura Lee Hall writes, “This book will likely open your eyes to a topic that you probably did not understand.”