Understanding stigma from a sociocultural context: mothers’ experience of stigma directed towards children with special educational needs

Chijioke Dike Uba, Kechinyerem Amaka Nwoga

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


Although the need for a better understanding and deconstruction of the barriers that underpin and impede the realisation of inclusive education in many developing countries is acknowledged, few studies focus specifically on exploring how stigma affects the choices that parents in developing countries make on behalf of their children. This paper contributes to the understanding of the stigma experience of mothers of children with special educational needs (SEN) in a Nigerian context. The aim of the study was to explore how parents’ interpretation of stigma directed towards their children with SEN affects the educational decision they make on behalf of these children. The study consisted of eight interviews with mothers of children with SEN in Lagos, Nigeria. Specifically, stigmatisation of children with SEN was found to be underpinned by a ‘non-materialistic’ culture and worldviews that construct disability as ‘non-normal’. Findings also uncover a range of coping mechanisms adopted by mothers to deal with courtesy stigma and stigma stress. Theoretical and practical contributions to the literature on stigma and inclusive education are subsequently discussed. Theoretically, we introduce and discuss the import of ‘stigma transference’ (the different modes that stigma can be transferred from one individual to the other) and practically, we discuss implications of findings for anti-stigma intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-994
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number9
Early online date22 Feb 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Feb 2016



  • Stigma
  • inclusive education
  • material and non-material culture
  • special education needs
  • stigma transference

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