Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Stigmatized Ethnicity, Public Health, and Globalization

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Stigmatized Ethnicity, Public Health, and Globalization

Article excerpt

Abstract

The prejudicial linking of infection with ethnic minority status has a long-established history, but in some ways this association may have intensified under the contemporary circumstances of the "new public health" and globalization. This study analyzes this conflation of ethnicity and disease victimization by considering the stigmatization process that occurred during the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Toronto. The attribution of stigma during the SARS outbreak occurred in multiple and overlapping ways informed by: (i) the depiction of images of individuals donning respiratory masks; (ii) employment status in the health sector; and (iii) Asian-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian ethnicity. In turn, stigmatization during the SARS crisis facilitated a moral panic of sorts in which racism at a cultural level was expressed and rationalized on the basis of a rhetoric of the new public health and anti-globalization sentiments. With the former, an emphasis on individualized self-protection, in the health sense, justified the generalized avoidance of those stigmatized. In relation to the latter, in the post-9/11 era, avoidance of the stigmatized other was legitimized on the basis of perceiving the SARS threat as a consequence of the mixing of different people predicated by economic and cultural globalization.

Resume

Le fait prejudiciable de lier ensemble infection et minorite ethnique est etabli depuis longtemps dans I'histoire, mais cette association semble s'etre intensifiee d'une certaine maniere dans les circonstances actuelles de la <> et de la mondialisation. Dans cette etude, nous analysons cet assemblage d'ethnicite et de victimisation liee a la maladie, en examinant le processus de stigmatisation qui a emerge lorsque le symptome respiratoire aigu grave (SRAG) s'est declare en 2003 a Toronto. Au cours de cette eclosion du SRAG, la designation des boucs emissaires s'est faite de manieres multiples qui se recoupaient les unes les autres : (i) la representation visuelle de personnes portant des masques respiratoires, (ii) le statut d'emploi dans le secteur de la sante et (iii) l'ethnicite canadienne asiatique ou sinocanadienne. Par ailleurs, la stigmatisation pendant la crise du SRAG a ouvert la vole a une sorte de panique morale permettant au racisme de s'exprimer et de se rationaliser au niveau culturel a partir d'une rhetorique de nouvelle sant6 publique et de sentiments anti-mondialisation. En ce qui concerne ces derniers, l'emphase portee sur une autoprotection individuelle au sens sanitaire a justifie une mise a l'ecart generalisee des personnes stigmatisees. Cette mise a l'ecart dans le contexte de l'apres-onze septembre a Iegitimise le fait d'eviter tout Autre stigmatise, en s'appuyant sur la perception de la menace du SRAG, vue comme une consequence du melange de peuples divers, tel que preche par la mondialisation economique et culturelle.

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During extreme events and disaster situations, many potentially disruptive aspects of individual and group life that normally remain latent in day-to-day life may come to the surface. Extreme events, therefore, provide a unique opportunity--a type of "natural experiment"--to study the "exception" to better understand the "rule" in terms of gaining insights into social structure and behaviour more generally (Stallings 2002). The value of adopting this vantage point is quite evident in the work of sociologists in various traditions, for example, in Durkheim's (1951) classic work on how acts of deviance are functional to society by providing instances and making explicit what exactly the moral boundaries are for a given behaviour. This point is similarly illustrated by Garfinkel's (1967) ethnomethological technique of intentionally violating social norms through "breaching experiments" and observing the reactions of the interactants, in order to gain insights into the nature of our taken-for-granted sense of shared social reality. …

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