the effects of labelling people as criminal or deviant

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  • the effects of labelling people as criminal or deviant
    • primary and secondary deviance
      • edwin lemert distinguishes between primary and secondary deviance
        • primary deviance refers to deviant acts that have not been publicly labelled
          • he argues that it is pointless to seek the causes of primary deviance since it is so widespread that it is unlikely to have a signle cause and it is likely to be trivial and they mostly go uncaught
          • these acts are not part of an organised deviant way of life so offenders can easily rationalise them away as a moment of madness
          • they have little significance for the individuals status or self concept
          • primary deviants don't generally see themselves as deviant
      • secondary deviance is the result of societys reaction
        • in the eyes of the world the person is no longer a colleague father or neighbour they are now a theif , junkie or paedophile and an outsider
          • this can provoke a crisis for the individual self concept or sense of identity
            • one way to resolve this crisis is for the individual to accept the deviant label and see themselves as the world see them. in turn this may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the individual acts out or live up to their deviant label thereby becoming what the label says they are.
        • being caught and publically labelled as a criminal can involve being stigmatised, shamed, humilated,shunned or excluded from normal society
        • once and individual is labelled others may come to see him only in terms of the label this then becomes their master status or controlling identity overiding all others
        • secondary deviance is likely to provoke further hostile reactions from the society and reinforce the deviant outsider status
        • the idea that it is not the act itself but the hostile societal reaction by the social audience that creates serious deviance ironically therefore the social control processes that are meant to produce law abiding behaviour may in fact produce the very opposite
    • labelling and criminal justice policy
      • recent studies have shown how increases in the attempt to control and punish young offenders are having the opposite effect
        • Triplett notes and increasing tendency to see young offenders as evil and to be less tolerant of minor deviance. the criminal justice system has relabelled status offences such as truancy as a more serious offences resulting in much harsher sentences
      • finding indicate that labelling theory has important policy implications they add weight to the arguement that negative labelling pushes offenders towards a deviant career. therefore logically to reduce deviance we should make and enforce fewer rules for people to break
    • deviance amplification
      • the deviance amplification spiral is a term used to discribe a processin which the attempt to control deviance leads to an increase in the levels of deviance. this leads to greater attempts to control it and in turn this produces yet higher levels of deviance
      • this concept has been applied to group activity such as Cohen's study of the societal reaction to the mods and rockers disturbance in 1964 press exagerations and distorted reporting of the events began a moral panic with growing public concern and moral entrepreneurs calling for a crack down. the police reponded by arresting more youths while the courts imposed harsher penalties. this seemed to confirm the truth of the orginal media reaction and provoked more public concern in an upward spiral of deviance amplification. at the same time the demonising of the mods and rockersas folk devils caused their further marginaliseation as outsiders resulting in more deviant behaviour on their part
    • reintegrative shaming
      • John Braithwaite identifies a possitve role for the labelling process he distinguishes between two types of shaming
        • reintegrative shaming
          • the act and crime is labeeled but not the actor as if to say he has done a bad thing rather then he is a bad person
        • disintegrative shaming
          • both the crime and the criminal are labelled as bad and the offender is excluded from society
      • avoids stigmatising the offender as evil while at the same time making them aware of the negative impact of their actions upon others and then encourages others to fogive them and accept them back into society
      • Braithwaite argues that crime rates tend to be lower in societies where reintegrative rather than disintegrative shaming is the dominant way of dealing with offenders

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