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A 'little world of your own': stigma, gender and narratives of venereal disease contact tracing

[journal article]

Kampf, Antje

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Abstract As in other countries, in order to protect the public from venereal disease (syphilis and gonorrhoea), contact tracing in New Zealand has been a public health strategy since the mid-20th century. So far, scholars have predominantly focused on the aspect of control of the cases traced. Based on a rare interview with a female contact tracer, together with a range of archival material, this article aims to expand the scholarship by focusing on the tracer instead of the patient. Using Erving Goffman's original concept of 'courtesy stigma', the article will show that his idea can be nuanced to take into account contact tracers and the ways in which this stigma can be refracted through gender. Working as a tracer had a distinct impact on her life and possibly even her marital status, which were compromised by secrecy, stigma, morality and the demands of public health policies — aspects that were, paradoxically, quite similar to those she traced. The courtesy stigma that contact tracers for venereal disease acquired limited their professional options, as well as isolated them in the non-stigmatized social world.
Keywords gender; stigma
Classification Medical Sociology; Health Policy
Free Keywords contact tracing; New Zealand; venereal disease
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 233-250
Journal Health, 12 (2008) 2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)