Stigma, The Favorable field of Social deviances increase in the Age of Cyberspace

In some approaches in dealing with social deviances and in particular addiction, an idea has been formed that believed stigmatization prevents repeating the crime by a deviant through delegitimizing him or her. Not so long ago, in dealing with thugs, the policy of shaving the heads and humiliating them to delegitimize was tested in Iran, but it did not end up with the planned strategy and then abandoned. In the United States also the approach of using positive stigma to control or prevent crimes was implemented, and the federal government tested policies to restrict public service provision including housing rents for offenders, addicts, and drug traffickers, but the policy did not work and in it was in 2012, the National Narcotics Institution of America called for the end of such plans, and it was the end of stigmatization strategy to control and reduce the number of crimes and injuries in the country. The issue of stigmatization in Iran, in particular, with contribution of cyberspace and new emerging digital space with its potentiality to produces deviances have had an additional damage to the society that has been analyzed in this overview.


The method of this article was review with narrative or descriptive type of it in which an issue has been raised and attempted to select and summarize the scientific literature and combine results along with categorizing, describing, and analyzing the characteristics of it, which may or may not include comprehensive searching. Here the reviews and what was considered related from the sources to the subject and purpose of the study was overviewed. The proprietary approach which exists in systematic review was not necessary in this type of method and the choice of the texts examined was more or less dependent on the writer’s experience and attitude. Therefore, the subject was analyzed with a critical approach towards about 30 scientific articles, and the criteria for choosing texts were also guided by theoretical data of the subject.


The tattoo or the burning of a part of the skin of slaves, criminals or traitors to a country in the ancient world was to introduce them as moral corruptors, that these people usually did not have the right to enter public places and often felt different and worthless than ordinary people. Later in the modern era, burning the personality and identity of the citizens by rulers to isolate them from the power field of rivalry was an effective tactic, that the topic of identity crisis and alienation as well as metamorphosis were reflected in the modern classical literature to interpret this process. The concept that Irwin Gaffman created as a theoretical framework for studying stigmatization, introduces it as an attribute that creates a profound discredit within a particular social interaction. In Franz Fanon’s work ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ the debate also reflected and argued that by internalizing stigmatization the stigmatized lost her/his identity and believes that he or she really bears a stigma. Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” also makes the same sense and believes that, under the pressure of machinery, urbanism, living for others, absolute daily routine would alienate man of himself and others that, according to Gaffman, spoils his/her identity. Stigmatization, alienation, and metamorphosis have numerous social damage and deviances such as suicide that reflected in sociology and social psychology and were discussed by Durkheim, Marx, Weber and others. In this article also the association between stigma and social deviances has been investigated.General theoretical and historical formulation of the stigma issue can also be valid in Iran and has many social signs for analysis. The process of globalization, the expansion of urbanization and the flood of migration from rural areas to  the big cities and socio- economic rejection of them and pushing back to the  boarder lines, which paves the way to marginalization, along with the rapid and spectacular growth of technology, especially media and formation technology  along with a virtual network and its magnificent role in the realm of everyday life, values, norms and culture, has made a  different face from the world in general and consequently from Iran. This transformation has severely affected the social space of Iran with fundamental changes and possibly the various kinds of social harm and deviances that introduce new life styles such as white marriage or cohabitation by the youths. The scope of cyberspace impact on Iran’s society and social relations are much broader than mentioning a few examples. In fact, we are on the verge of a paradigmatic shift from our lifestyle to obtain new identities. The new or emerging issue is that, with the drift of minorities from the context of society to its margins, they will not become isolated and passive, like the old age. But in the new era, through social networks, they can create their own social capital (negative social capital) and organize anti-social crimes and behaviors. Social capital, by integrating the theory of “differential association” that Sutherland has put forward, can create the trust between the pervert and the perpetrators and make them interconnected and integrated within the network of relationships that is a component of the social capital which can be named here as the social capital of criminals. The range of negative social capital effect on strengthening criminal and offender groups includes from smoking and drinking to being attracted and reinforced by gangs and smugglers. Although few studies have been carried out on the evaluation of social capital in criminals’ communities, but even from these limited number of studies one can come to conclusion that social capital has a negative effect on broken communities. Deviant companion encourages divergent behaviors with their desirable definitions and opportunities which have been provided by their network norms.The advent of media and virtual social networks helped the process of democratization and social justice through bringing up the marginal discourses and putting them in the context and personal stories and unheard voices, without any old barriers that stigmatization was on the top, has opened its way to the public sphere. Virtual mass media have the ability to provide a dynamic process of training, calling and protesting. The key point is that now and in the new media and virtual space, marginalized groups can produce content and collective action by individuals will find this capacity so that without hindrances and trouble of forming a protest organization, the “Wretched of the Earth” according to Fanon, can influence the mainstream of media and politics.This process will affect attitudes and no more major social organizations and intellectual communities and cultural institutions necessarily can determine the values, but values could be “tweeted” by any individual from any margin of this world.


According to the consequences, the social policy of using positive aspect of stigma to control and prevent social deviances has not been effective. Firstly, stigma and exclusion that would cause some carriers of contagious diseases such as AIDS, do not attend the clinics to cure or control their disease so that it can be spread and put the community at risk. Secondly, in fact the main solution is to stigmatize the type of deviant behavior rather than punishing the person. Thirdly, conspicuous especially for women, restricts their life after being released from prison, in the sense of employment, housing, education, maternal role, and so on, causing a moral decline and the destruction of their normal lives. Fourthly, in this new cyberspace world order, no more marginalized and stigmatized individuals and groups would act passively and their deviant activities could harm the societies.  In such a condition that socio-economic and cultural factors with creating inequalities in the flow of the elimination of minority groups from the context of society and driving them to the margins and strengthening the criminal groups, adding a political factor and social policy by stigmatizing the political rivals in order to isolate and marginalize them from the spectrum of power and authority , firstly, provides a basis for the growth of further social damages and reinforces the danger of the collapse of society. Second, in the new world with a virtual entity, marginalized people, with access to the content production tools and skills and the formation of virtual alliances in the new media environment against the society and its norms, could provide a narrative and design a discourse that if is not criminal but definitely could be an anti-social discourse.  Ethical ConsiderationsPublication ethics: the authors confirm that the article is in accordance with ethical laws and is an original work with no plagiarism, duplication and no fabrication and falsification. There is no conflict of interest and no funding from any resources.

Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Social Welfare Quarterly, Volume:19 Issue: 75, 2020
251 - 280  
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