Stuttering is a complex speaking disorder that is not well understood and is stigmatized in society. Stigma is well documented in the sociological literature, but there is surprisingly little written about stuttering. Sociological theory helps us to explain how stutterers become stigmatized and how they cope with it. Specifically, symbolic interactionism explains the development ofthe stigmatized 'self within society. Labeling theory explains how a label such as stuttering can influence behavior. This study is interested in how individuals who stutter feel they are stigmatized and how they cope with their disorder. In order to study stuttering, I joined two support groups for stutterers and interviewed seven stutterers. From this research, four themes emerged: difficulty in school, difficulty in choosing and performing in a career, effects on social life, and effects on feelings of self-worth. Contrary to most sociological theory, I found that stutterers can overcome stigma over time. As the participants entered into adulthood, became more mature, and joined a support group, the negative impacts of the label 'stutterer' and the stigma associated with it actually decreased.


Nurse, Anne M.


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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© Copyright 2005 John A. Fishburn