Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Markowitz, Fred E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Sociology has a long history of documenting socio-political views that are used by media to portray stereotypes and perpetuate the potential stigmas associated with race, social class, gender, and other disadvantaged social categories. There is comparatively little existing research that discusses how media coverage is connected to disability-related stigma. In this thesis, I use grounded theory to construct a content analysis of newspapers coverage of the 2016 United States Presidential Election. From the data, I examine how stereotypes related to disability may be used in political discourse, drawing from the refined theory of stigma, as outlined by Link and Phelan (2001). In my dataset, disability-related language is used negatively in almost three quarters of all cases comprising of my sample. Within these negative cases, I find that all five components of Link and Phelan’s (2001) theory of stigma, which are labeling, separation, stereotyping, status loss and discrimination, are present.


59 pages




Northern Illinois University

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