Labelling Theory - Sociologists

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  • Created by: Becky
  • Created on: 27-02-13 16:17


- Once someone recieves a negative label it become their master status

- The individual is then treated very differently by society as they are unable to escape their label. 

- A self fulfilling prophecy can then occur and the person embarks on a deviant career. 

- A negative label can therefore create deviance. 

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- emphasised the way that society reacts to deviance, primary and secondary deviance. 

- Primary deviance: deviance occurs but it goes unnoticed so the deviants identity doesnt change and labelling doesnt occur

- Secondary deviance: The deviants behavious has been noticed and a negative label is attached to them. This changes the way that society sees the person and the way that they see themselves. A master status can take hold which override all other statuses and cannot be eaily shaken off and so the chance of a self fulfilling prophecy taking place increased. And in turn so does crime! 

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Studies 2 american gangs : The Saints (boys from mi/c backgrounds) and the Roughnecks (boys from w/c backgrounds)

Both gangs acted in the same way but because the Roughnecks were from poor, w/c background they were targeted much more. 

The roughnecks were negatively labelled due to their backgrounds and ended up in more trouble than the saints. Their restricted speaking coded meanttht they rubbed the teachers and police up the wrong way. 

Agencies of control generated further deviance. 

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Cohen - the media

Looked at the Mods and the Rockers - the media exaggerated and distroted what had occured. 

During easter sunday 1964 isolated incidents of fighting broke out in Claction, Essex. It was not seriously but ended with many arrests. 

The exaggeration from the media made the police and public react badly. 

The media created further deviance as distorting the events ended in labelling the youths as troublemakers (folk devils) and created moral panic which amplified the problem further. 

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'Hippies'  in the 1960s shows how negative labelling can indirectly cause crime. 

They smoked cannabis very occasionally but the media exaggerated and distorted the truth of the matter. 

Society put pressure on the police and more arrests were made. 

This caused they 'Hippies' to cut themselves off from wider society and fulfilled the prophey of 'dope smokers' 

The media again created a problem that hadn't previously exsisted. 

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- People can chose to reject their negative label and prove the labeller wrong, it is not deterministic. 

- deviance is not always socially contructed, eg murder. 

- Realist criminologists - real victims of crime are those on the receiving end of very brutal, traumatic offences. The labelling theory suggests that the offended is a victim of labelling - very insensitive 

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