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Sinners and Saints: Morally Stigmatized Work

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sharon MavinORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Palgrave Macmillan, US, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Morally dirty work refers to an organization, occupation or employment tasks regarded as sinful, dubious, deceptive, intrusive or confrontational. For those who perform such work (dirty workers), moral taint serves as a stain on the individual’s integrity, a defect of character that may stick even after the individual stops performing the work. Often such work can be simultaneously viewed in positive and negative terms, thus performed by individuals, who we suggest, can paradoxically been considered both saints and sinners. In this chapter, we explain what we understand by moral taint and the implications at the individual, group and organization levels. We discuss what we provocatively refer to as, the most obvious sinners (e.g., casino workers, HIV/ AIDS / addiction caregivers, genetic termination nurses, border patrol agents), the sometimes sinners (e.g., correctional officers, truckers, private detectives), and new and surprising sinners (e.g., bankers, nursing as pornography, secretaries). We conclude with areas for future research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Grandy S, Mavin S

Editor(s): Thomson, SB; Grandy G

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Stigmas, work and organizations

Year: 2018

Pages: 101-121

Print publication date: 26/07/2017

Online publication date: 27/07/2017

Acceptance date: 08/08/2017

Series Title: Palgrave Explorations in Workplace Stigma book series (PAEWS)

Number of Volumes: 3

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, US

Place Published: New York


DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-56476-4_6


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781137575715