- Interactionism is associated with labelling theory.
- Some prefer to call labelling theory a 'perspective'.
- Labelling theorists investigate the relationship between those who commit'deviant' acts and those who label them as such.
- This may be the interaction between police and 'delinquents', for example.
- Relationship between definers and defined.
- Under certain situations the application of a 'deviant' label will occur.
- When a person is labelled this has psychological implications. They come to understand themselves in terms of the label.
- A label also affects an individual's social reactions. Others may perceive and treat them differently as a result of the label.
- Merton - self-fulfilling prophesy. The link between labelling and future behaviour is derived from the idea of this.
- From the perspective of labelling theory, it is not the behaviour which is intrinsically deviant but in the responses of the social audiences.
- Deviance may occur, but it does not become as such until it receives this label.
- For example: if an individual does not get caught they will not be labelled as deviant.
- Behaviour may be labelled deviant in some circumstances but not in others. For example, being intoxicated may permit the behaviour whilst in another situation it would be considered deviant.
- The important stage for labelling theorists is when the recipient of the label begins to accept the label and sees themselves as deviant.
- Labelling theory marked a shift away from the focus on why deviance occurs in the first place.
- Lemert - primary deviation.
- Becker - becoming a marajuana user.
Leaning to become deviant
- Becker's Outsiders found an enthusiastic audience among more radical British and American sociologists in the 1960's.
- Becker tried to bring together continuities between deviant and non-deviant worlds.
- In stead of focusing on crime, Becker focused on deviance.
- He shifted attention from the characteristics of the rule breaker and moved the focus to the reactions of the social audience.
- Becker traced the process of becoming a marajuana user.
- Two important elements of labelling theory are present in Becker's account. 1) An anti-deterministic stance, alowing people to make choices and exercise their wills. 2) The notion of a deviant 'career'.
- For labelling theorists, the original cause of the deviance is not considered. They argue that deviant behaviour is widespread. However, only some of it becomes officially labelled as this.
- Lemert - trying to establish the original causes of the deviance is pointless. In his view, all that deviants have in common is that they have been labelled as this.
- Becker: social groups create deviance because they define what is to be considered as deviant behaviour. Deviance is not the quality of the act, but a consequence of the application of rules and sanctions by another.
- Focus of labelling theory is the application of pre-existing rules to certain groups.
- The rule breaking does not in itself make someone deviant - it is the social reaction which renders this as such.
- A response to the rule breaking is required.
Primary and secondary deviation
- The impact of labelling on the…