Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of (or discontent with) a person or group on socially characteristic grounds that are perceived, and serve to distinguish them,
from other members of a society. Stigma may then be affixed to such a person, by the greater society, who differs from their cultural norms.
Social stigma can result from the perception (rightly or wrongly) of mental illness, physical disabilities, diseases such as leprosy (see leprosy stigma),illegitimacy,
sexual orientation, gender identity, skin tone, education, nationality, ethnicity, ideology, religion (or lack of religion) or criminality. Attributes associated with social stigma often
vary depending on the geopolitical and corresponding sociopolitical contexts employed by society, in different parts of the world.
According to Goffman there are three forms of social stigma:
Overt or external deformations, such as scars, physical manifestations of anorexia nervosa, leprosy (leprosy stigma), or of a physical disability or social disability, such as obesity.
Deviations in personal traits, including mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, and criminal background are stigmatized in this way.
"Tribal stigmas" are traits, imagined or real, of ethnic group, nationality, or of religion that is deemed to be a deviation from the prevailing normative ethnicity, nationality or religion.