Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2022 Mary Camuso. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Sociology & Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Ya Su


By combining stigma and social justice theory with an analysis of in-depth qualitative interviews, this study documents how occupational stigma affects career commitment and self-esteem in three harm reductionists employed at Frontline Services, a non-profit harm reduction organization based in Philadelphia. This study also provides documentation on how these workers resist occupational stigma and create meaning out of their controversial work on a daily basis. Results indicate that these workers use a modified method of reframing – a form of stigma resistance – to reduce the personal effects of occupational stigma, while also understanding their job as social justice work in order to create meaning out of their career. These revelations provide new perspectives on understanding addiction and harm reduction more broadly. This study thus serves as a challenge to existing addiction rhetoric that dehumanizes drug misusers.