Evaluation of labelling theory


Labelling theory shows that the law is not a fixed set of rules to betaken for granted, but something whose construction we need to explain. It shows that the law is often enforced in discriminatory ways, and that crime statisics are more a record of the activities of control agent than of criminals. It also shows that society's attempts to control deviance can backfire and create more deviance, not less.

However it is critisised on many grounds.

  • It tends to be deterministic, implying that once someone is labelled, a deviant career is inevitable.
  • Its emphasis on the negative effects of labelling gives the offender a kind of victim status and realists argue they ignore the real victims of crime.
  • By assuming…


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