Coping with Stigma and Social Exclusion of Terror-Convicts' Wives in Indonesia: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

By Rufaedah, Any; Putra, Idhamsyah Eka | The Qualitative Report, June 2018 | Go to article overview

Coping with Stigma and Social Exclusion of Terror-Convicts' Wives in Indonesia: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis


Rufaedah, Any, Putra, Idhamsyah Eka, The Qualitative Report


Social psychology research has found that stigma influences psychological conditions such as happiness, self-esteem, self-perception, group identification, motivation, task performance, social interaction, and social exclusion (Clapham, 2007; Hick, Visser, & MacNab, 2007; Houston, 2007; Mason-Whitehead & Mason, 2007; van Laar & Levin, 2006). As Islamist terrorism rises along with Islamophobia, wives of terror convicts are one group who faces stigma and social exclusion (e.g., Ahmad & Ula, 2013). What are the various forms, impacts, and how to do they cope with it? Is there a different attempt by wives of terror convicts as compared to another stigmatized group? The current study focused on examining the impact of public stigmatization toward the wives of terror convicts in Indonesia, and how they deal with the stigmatization of terrorism.

What Is Stigma?

Goffman defined social stigma as an attribute that extensively discredits individuals, belittles them from the whole and generally, for the purpose of defamation, abandons an individual (Goffman, 1963, as cited in Major & O'Brien, 2005, p. 394).

Stigma labeling can refer to characteristic, physical, and group identity (Goffman, 1963, as cited in Jalaluddin, 2011). A characteristic of stigma, for instance, is considering others as weak, slow, or dominating. Physical stigma refers to physical handicap, such as being visually impaired, limping, being short, or being dark-skinned. Group identity stigma refers to race, nationality, and religion. Misguided stigma toward religious groups is included in group identity stigma.

How a person or group is stigmatized is contextual (Putra & Pitaloka, 2012). Groups or individuals can get stigmatized in certain communities but not in others. In Indonesia, for example, communism is stigmatized as "atheist, ruthless, and dangerous" (Putra, Danamasi, Rufaedah, Arimbi, & Priyanto, 2017), but in other countries it is viewed just like any other ideology. It depends on the socio-culture, history, religious majority, and other factors.

At least, social psychology identified three functions of stigma. First, exploitation and domination (keeping people down). Second, to build a social norm so that others who strayed remain obedient to the norm (keeping people in). Third, avoiding a disease (keep people away) (Phelan, Link, & Dovidio, 2008). Stigma can be caused by stereotype or prejudice, and can lead to social exclusion. Stereotype is a categorical assumption given to all specific group members that can either be positive or negative, simple or diverse; sometimes we believe it and other times not (Smith & Bond, 1993, as cited in Shiraev & Levy, 2012, p. 384). More often, negative stereotyping imposes stigmatization, such that because of negative labeling the existence of the group is devalued. For an example, because group A is labeled as "stupid," group A is then considered as a scumbag.

Nonetheless, negative stereotype is not always directed toward other people. We can view our group as negative as compared to others. Marjoribanks and Jordan's (1986) study (as cited in Shiraev & Levy, 2012) found that Australian Aborigines give positive stereotypes to Anglo-Australians and only minimum positive stereotypes toward their own group. Examples such as that also happen to other groups. For example, members of party A viewed party B as better, or university A viewed university B as better. A viewed other similar organizations as better, tribe A viewed tribe B as better, and so on. However, this symptom is rarely found in religious groups because it involves individual belief.

The other one, stigma can also be caused by prejudice. For instance, prejudice is beliefs or judgment of the negative qualities of others (Putra, 2014; Putra & Wagner, 2017). The definition of prejudice keeps changing, but the general understanding of it can be represented by the above definition. …

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