Canada Research Chair in Stigmatization and Psychosocial Development

Chair Holder : Alexa Martin-Storey

The impact of an individual’s social context on academic achievement and mental health insifies during adolescence (Crosnoe, 2011). And, while these processes pose challenges for all youth, they are particularly important for youth with stigmatized identities. Following from Goffman’s (1963) work on stigma, a stigmatized identity reflects an identity that has been devalued, such as sexual minority status, low socioeconomic status (SES), mental illness or conduct problems, obesity, or minority race/ethnicity. From a developmental perspective, this devaluation is associated with both serious consequences for self-concept, social adjustment, and mental health and important disadvantages within educational and other social services institutions. In other words, children and adolescents with stigmatized identities are at greater risk for negative academic and psychosocial outcomes and are more likely receive poorer institutional service than non-stigmatized youth. Understanding the impact of stigma on youth outcomes is an important first step for improving psychosocial functioning for individuals experiencing the consequences of stigmatized identities. The research program of this chair focuses on the impact of both visible (e.g., obesity, gender nonconformity, Martin-Storey & Crosnoe, 2015) and concealed (e.g., sexual minority identity, Martin-Storey, 2015) stigma, along with stigma associated with place and class (e.g., Martin-Storey & Crosnoe, 2014). The overarching goal is to better understand how stigma shapes individual outcomes in adolescence and across the life course, in line with three specific research axes.

Axis A. Stigma, victimization and development: Objective: Identify the risk and protective factors that explain variation in the consequences of stigma across at-risk adolescent populations, focusing particularly on outcomes among sexual minority youth.

Axis B. Stigma, socioeconomic status (SES), place and adolescence: Objective: Better understand the role of class in shaping perceived stigma within adolescent populations by (1) testing a measure assessing how youth understand stigma associated with perceived SES and (2) establishing how perceptions of family and neighborhood SES interact with individual level characteristics such as conduct problems to predict wellbeing, service usage and academic achievement outcomes.

Axis C. Stigma and daily life: Objective: Explore the impact of stigma on daily functioning by assessing how stigmatized identities shape time use and service usage across the lifecourse.