The social construction of deviance
For labelling theorists, no act is deviant in itself: deviance is simply a social construct.
- According to Becker (1963), social gorups create deviance by creating rules and applying them to particular people whom they label as 'outsiders'.
- Thus an act or a person only becomes deviant when labelled by others as deviant.
- Labelling theorists argue that social control agencies (police, courts etc.) tend to label certain groups as criminal.
Cicourel (1976) argues that police use typifications (stereotypes) of the 'typical delinquent'.
- Working-class and ethnic minority juveniles are more likely to get arrested.
- Middle-class juveniles are less likely to fit the typification, and have parents who can negotiate successfully on their behalf. They are less likely to be charged.
Crime statistics: a topic not a resource
Working-class people fit police typifications, so police patroll working-class areas, resulting in more working-class arrests.
- Thus crime statistics are not valid.
The effects of labelling