Sociology Crime and Deviance Labelling

Effects of labelling

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  • Created by: Cookie
  • Created on: 02-06-12 14:50

Effects of labelling

LEMERT--> by labelling certain people as deviant, society is encouraging them to become more so.


Primary--> deviant acts that havnt been publicly labelled. Mostly go uncaught. Those who commit them dont feel themselves as deviant.

HOWEVER: labelling theory fails to explain why people commit primary deviance before being labelled.

Secondary--> results from societal reaction, from labelling. Excluding them from normal society. Others may see the offender solely in terms of the label which becomes the persons master status or controlling identity.

HOWEVER: labelling theory is too deterministic, assuming that once labelled a self fulfilling prophecy is inevitable, although this is the case, people can choose not to.

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Self fulfilling prophecy

Being labelled provokes someones self-concept and leads to a SFP in which they live up to (secondary deviance)

YOUNG--> study of hippy marijuana. Drug use was originally for hippies(primary deviance), but police call them 'junkies', which led to closed groups, developing a deviant subculture.

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Deviance Amplification Spiral

The attempt to control deviance leads into an increase rather than decrease. Leading to greater attempts to control, with yet more deviance, creating a spiral, just like YOUNG'S description.

Use moral entrepeneurs campaigns, e.g. about young people,terrorism and drugs. To illustrate concepts such as moral panic and deviance amplification.

COHEN--> Folk devils and moral panics 1972

  • Study of mods and rockers using the concept of Deviance Amplification Spiral.
  • Media exaggeration began a moral panic (growing public concern)
  • Demonising the mods and rockers as 'folk devils' marginalised them further creating more deviance (secondary deviance)
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Work of Cohen and Young points to key difference w

Functionalists--> see deviance producing social control.

Labelling theorists--> see control producing further deviance.

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