What is it about?

Affirmative action is provided to groups that are already stigmatised in society. Does granting individuals from stigmatised groups entry into preferred positions doubly stigmatise them because of the view that they are not good enough to get in without affirmative action? Moreover, if this stigma exists, do beneficiaries internalise the stigma? This paper tests this questions based on a primary survey in India.

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Why is it important?

Understanding whether beneficiaries internalise the stigma is very important because the stigma argument is being used as another stick to beat the affirmative action policy with; another reason to eliminate affirmative action. The paper shows that non- beneficiaries often do tend to stigmatise beneficiaries as less competent, but beneficiaries do not necessarily internalise the stigma. This evidence is useful to defend the affirmative action policy, and to point out that stigma exists more broadly in society, outside of the context of affirmative action, due to social identity, and affirmative action is needed precisely to counter discrimination that would occur on account of this stigmatisation.


I hope the evidence in this article makes readers re-evaluate their views about affirmative action and make them think more carefully about stigma, and about what they can contribute to consciously avoid micro aggressions and stigmatising actions towards minorities.

Ashwini Deshpande
Ashoka University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Double Jeopardy? Stigma of Identity and Affirmative Action, The Review of Black Political Economy, March 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0034644619837211.
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