Labelling Theory

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Labelling Theory - asks why and how some actions and people are labelled as criminal or deviant , and what effects this has on those labelled. They regard official statistics as social constructs and believe individual constructs world through t face - face interactions. e.g crime as a product of interaction between suspect and police.

They argue that it's not the nature of the act that makes it deviant but the nature of society's reaction to the act. According to Becker a deviant whom the label has successfully been applied on whilst deviant behavior is what people label.

Moral Entrepreneurs - People who lead moral crusades to change existing law in the belief that it will benefit those whom it is applied.

  • However, creates new group of outsiders/outlaws or deviants who break the new law.
  • Creation or expansion of social control agency to enforce rule and impose labels on offenders.  

For example, upper-class Victorian moral entrepreneurs creation of juvenile delinquency. Juveniles became separate category of offenders and state had ability to extend it's powers…


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