Labeling theory

See Article History Alternative Title: The first as well as one of the most prominent labeling theorists was Howard Beckerwho published his groundbreaking work Outsiders in A question became popular with criminologists during the mids: What makes some acts and some people deviant or criminal?

Labeling theory

He found that crime is not so much a violation of a penal code as it is an act that outrages society. As a contributor to American Pragmatism and later a member of the Chicago SchoolGeorge Herbert Mead posited that the self is socially constructed and reconstructed through the interactions which each person has with the community.

The labeling theory suggests that people obtain labels from how others view their tendencies or behaviors. Each individual is aware of how they are judged by others because he or she has attempted many different roles and functions in social interactions and has been able to gauge the reactions of those present.

Family and friends may judge differently from random strangers. More socially representative individuals such as police officers or judges may be able to make more globally respected judgments.

If deviance is a failure to conform to the rules observed by most of the group, the reaction of the group is to label the person as having offended against their social or moral norms of behavior. This is the power of the group: Labeling theory concerns itself mostly not with the normal roles that define our lives, but with those very special roles that society provides for deviant behaviorcalled deviant roles, stigmatic roles, or social stigma.

A social role is a set of expectations we have about a behavior. Social roles are necessary for the organization and functioning of any society or group. We expect the postman, for example, to adhere to certain fixed rules about how he does his job.

Deviant behavior can include both criminal and non-criminal activities. Investigators found that deviant roles powerfully affect how we perceive those who are assigned those roles. They also affect how the deviant actor perceives himself and his relationship to society. The deviant roles and the labels attached to them function as a form of social stigma.

Always inherent in the deviant role is the attribution of some form of "pollution" or difference that marks the labeled person as different from others. Society uses these stigmatic roles to them to control and limit deviant behavior: For example, adultery may be considered a breach of an informal rule or it may be criminalized depending on the status of marriagemorality, and religion within the community.

In most Western countries, adultery is not a crime. Attaching the label "adulterer" may have some unfortunate consequences but they are not generally severe.

But in some Islamic countries, zina is a crime and proof of extramarital activity may lead to severe consequences for all concerned.

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Stigma is usually the result of laws enacted against the behavior. Laws protecting slavery or outlawing homosexuality, for instance, will over time form deviant roles connected with those behaviors. Those who are assigned those roles will be seen as less human and reliable.

Labeling theory

In Mind, Self, and Society[3] he showed how infants come to know persons first and only later come to know things. According to Mead, thought is both a social and pragmatic process, based on the model of two persons discussing how to solve a problem.

While we make fun of those who visibly talk to themselves, they have only failed to do what the rest of us do in keeping the internal conversation to ourselves. Human behavior, Mead stated, is the result of meanings created by the social interaction of conversation, both real and imaginary.

Thomas Scheff[ edit ] Thomas J. A Sociological Theory According to Scheff society has perceptions about people with mental illness. He stated that everyone in the society learns the stereotyped imagery of mental disorder through ordinary social interaction.

The media also contributes to this bias against mentally ill patients by associating them with violent crimes. Scheff believes that mental illness is a label given to a person who has a behavior which is away from the social norms of the society and is treated as a social deviance in the society.

Frank Tannenbaum[ edit ] Frank Tannenbaum is considered the grandfather of labeling theory. His Crime and Community[5] describing the social interaction involved in crime, is considered a pivotal foundation of modern criminology. While the criminal differs little or not at all from others in the original impulse to first commit a crime, social interaction accounts for continued acts that develop a pattern of interest to sociologists.

This initial tagging may cause the individual to adopt it as part of their identity. The class structure was one of cultural isolationism; cultural relativity had not yet taken hold.

The emphasis on biological determinism and internal explanations of crime were the preeminent force in the theories of the early thirties.

This dominance by the Positivist School changed in the late thirties with the introduction of conflict and social explanations of crime and criminality · Labeling theory is closely related to interactionist and social construction mtb15.comng theory was developed by sociologists during the 's.

Howard Saul Becker's book entitled Outsiders was extremely influential in the development of this theory and its rise to  · Labeling theory provides a distinctively sociological approach that focuses on the role of social labeling in the development of crime and deviance.

The theory assumes that although deviant behavior can initially stem from various causes and conditions, once individuals have been labeled or  · Labeling theory holds that on some occasion everybody shows behavior that can be called deviant.

For various reasons, only certain people are labeled as deviant because of this behavior.

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Labeling entails that the identity assigned to an individual is in some respect altered to his discredit.  · The Labeling Theory-also referred to as Social Reaction Theory- asserts that crime is a label attached to wrongdoing, and often the label becomes a stigma that increases criminality.

The Labeling Theory became most dominant between the early s and the late Labeling theory has been an extremely important and influential development in criminology, but its recent advances have been largely Labeling Theory In sociology, labeling theory is the view of deviance according to which being labeled as a "deviant" leads a person to engage in deviant behavior.

Originating in Howard Becker's work in the s, labeling theory explains why people's behavior clashes with social

Labeling theory - Wikipedia