Labelling theory

  • Created by: Joe
  • Created on: 16-06-15 14:42


Labelling suggests that when we research crime we increase it because we begin to label

Charles Cooley- The looking glass self 

Mead- self is a process not a structure 

Developmnet from initial label to master status- the most identifable feature 

Newburn- not initial act but label, denies importance of individual 

Master status- Everett Hughes 1945 

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Tannenbaum 1938- evil is constructued and dramatised not in the initial act and makes deviance worse

Lemert 1951- primary and secondary deviance, primary deviance being the initial act which adds to increase labelling and results in adapting to the label by means of coping- increases deviance, not quality of initial act 

Wilkins 1964- Spiral development of label from initial act to increased isolation and alientation leading to secondary label- increases deviance. Compounded by the media and socirty- folk devils, mods v rockers (Stan cohen) 

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The Process

The process is not infallible and is not dependent on the initiaql act or on the quality of the act, not the same each time and ranges. 

Starts with primary label after any norm violation, secondary label- CJS labels and chacterises the individual, leading to eventual master status- most dominant and identifable factor

Goffman (1963) spoiled identity, Mertomn (1968) self fulfilling prohecy.

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Becker 1963

Suggested one deviant trait to totsal deivance, importance of stimga and outsiders- (Hughes 1945- dont belong). Not quality of the act, it is the label, deviant is one who has had label sucesfully applied

Secret deviance- noone knows about it so labelling process never begins. 

Moral Entrepeneurs- Coin others as criminal to preserve their power

Downes 1979- superficial and naieve. 

Example of drug taking- not the initial act but the label that leads to illigitamte procesess

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Political implications

Who labels, how and why? 

Asks which side are you on- labelled or labellers

Focus of apparatus of power within society makes labelling effective and eaiser, the majoirty v the minoirty (Giddens) old v young, rich v poor, men v women

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labelling can be seen as not being a complete theory, corrective focus. Ditton 1979- not a theory in itself. limited impacted in compairson 

Marxist critique- failure to consider power impact, Jock Young- an arbitary flexing of the moral muscle

Lack of empirical evidence, or explanation of labelling procesess 

Labelling can be positive- Akers 1967, eg domestic violnece- Sherman 1992. 

braithwaite work0 not all leads to exclusion 

Determiend and predstined- negates the fee will of the individual. 

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Braithwaite- Reintergrative v disintergrative shaming- Should certify the criminal status and aim for reintergration eg resotrative justice, rehabilitation etc

Contempoary relevnece- theft v white collar 

Feminism- Mad or bad 

Horrowtiz and Leibowtiz- theory with political emphasis 

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Gouldner- Romatic focus on underdog but little grounding in reality

Labelling move from initial label to master stauts- total deviance 

Labelling is not quality of the act but of the label- Newburn 

Difference between deviance and criminal- move to a criminal label through labelling process 

Home office 1988- grow out of crime + Early intervention policies- importance of initial label

Modern theorist focus on relationship

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Case Study

George Zimmerman v Trayvon Martin 

Label contrast with respctable smart v Game, rapper, not him 

Prison phto v young, innocent, smiling

Perceptions and labels of the media impact and then on society 

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