Celebrating Risk: The Politics of Self-Branding, Transgression and Resistance in Public Health

Blake Poland, Dave Holmes


Persons ‘branded’ as dangerous to the public’s health often try to hide their status (as smokers, as HIV positive, etc). Yet, a small but growing subgroup has re-appropriated stigma symbols and voluntarily branded themselves as ‘marked’ individuals, rebellious, transgressive and refusing to be shamed by their status. In this article we examine voluntary branding as acts of resistance, paying particular attention to bodily practices that disrupt dominant aesthetic and moral/political sensibilities. We draw on our research and observations in the realms of smoking and bareback sex to illustrate and address broader issues of branding the self, aesthetics and the politics of resistance, surveillance, and transgression. Drawing on the work of Goffman, Bourdieu and Foucault, we examine the interpenetration of class, physical and social capital, and unequal social relations. While these works are often used to celebrate resistance, we argue, following Fiske, that it should not be romanticized as inherently liberating.


Key Words: Body, Branding, Identity, Public Health, Resistance, Skin, Stigma

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Licença Creative Commons
Este trabalho está licenciado com uma Licença Creative Commons - Atribuição 4.0 Internacional.