Assess the view that crime and deviance are the products of the labelling process (essay 21/21)

21 mark essay on crime and deviance being products of the labelling process, this essay got marked full marks. Hope it's useful(: 

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Assess the view that crime and deviance are the products of the labelling process
(21 marks)
The labelling theory is a micro interactionist approach, this is because it focuses on
how individuals construct the social world through face-face interactions. It recognises
the concept of the `procedural self' where ones identity is continuously constructed
and recognised in interaction with significant others, this results in the individual's
behaviour, including that related to crime and deviance.
Significant others are those who are in high social power and thus able to dictate
influence and actively determine an individual's life. Such individuals may include police
officers, prison officers, politicians, parents and teachers. Feminists would argue
however that these are all the males in society, determining and controlling the lives of
females, keeping society patriarchal. The influence that significant others place on
individuals lives is through the use of labels, the labels aren't usually based on individual
characteristics, more so stereotypes, working assumptions and professional
knowledge. For example Cicaurel found that police patrolled working class areas more
intensively, resulting in more arrests, this is due to the police's stereotypical view that
delinquent individuals are part of the working class.
Lemert distinguishes between primary and secondary deviance in society. Primary
deviance involves minor offences such as vandalism or smoking underage and these
acts are usually uncaught or insignificant. However an individual may be caught for
such acts and inturn be labelled as delinquent or deviant, the social reaction of this
label results in the development of secondary deviance: more serious crimes such as
assault or drugs. This therefore illustrates that it is not the act itself but the hostile
societal reaction by significant others that creates serious deviance, thus crime and
deviance being products of the labelling process.
Support for this idea is research conducted by Jock Young on hippy marijuana users.
Drugs were associated with hippies which demonstrate primary deviance. Police then
labelled and persecuted hippies for their behaviour, excluding them from normal
society. AS a result a deviant subculture emerged where hippies retreated into closed
groups, grew hair out long, wore eccentric clothes and drug use became a central
Gove argued that there are two consequences of labelling: creation of sigma,
modification of self images. Stigma is the negative branding of an individual and refers
to the public condemnation and exclusion of the criminal. The media tend to
exaggerate the behaviour of such people, causing increased fear and moral panic in
society, resulting in avoidance and constantly being treated with suspicion. Becker
refers to a `master status' where once a person is labelled all of their actions are
interpreted in light of the label and only negative aspects of that individual's behaviour
are focussed on.
Because of the stigma created from the label a modification of self image occurs in the
individual. The individual essentially lives up to their deviant label, becoming the person
described in the label. The process of deviancy amplification whereby any
punishments or treatment therefore reinforce the individual perception of the criminal,

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This theory can however by
criticised because it is determinist, where individuals have n control over the process
and once they have been labelled they will inevitably turn deviant or criminal. Social
action theorists believe in free will and individual's choice to reject their label. In
addition the label may cause the opposite result where an individual seeks to actively
prove their label wrong by thriving and succeeding in their work/ life.…read more




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