Sociology Crime and Deviance Labelling Theory

Labelling Theory: effects, theories, evaluation

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  • Created by: Cookie
  • Created on: 01-06-12 23:29


Social construction of deviance

Social groups create deviance by making rules and applying to people who they label as outsiders.

Moral entrepreneurs--> people who lead a moral 'crusade' to change the law in the belief it will benefit those to whom its applied. Therefore, a deviant is someone to whom the label has been successfully applied.

This law creates: creation of new group of outsiders or deviants who break new rules.

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Argues the idea of 'juvenile delinquency' was created due to ruling class moral entrepeneurs aimed at protecting young.

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Crime statistics recorded by the police dont give a valid picture of crime patterns.

CICOUREL--> argues we cant take crime statistics at face value or use them as a resource. We should investigate the process by which they are constructed.

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Police use stereotypes of 'typical delinquents' who are more likely to be arrested.

Subject class and ethnic minority juveniles are more likely to be arrested. Once arrested, those from broken homes etc are more likely.

Middle class juveniles are less likely to fit the stereotype and have parents who can negotiate on their behalf.


  • Marxists criticise the labelling theorists for failing to locate the origin of such labels.
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Piliavin and Briar

Police decisions to arrest were based on stereotypical ideas about dress, manner, gender, etc.

Social control agencies (police, courts) label certain groups as criminal.

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