Labelling Theory

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Argues law is enforced in discriminatory ways, crime statistics are more a record of activities of control agents than of criminal and attempts to control deviance can backfire by causing more deviance.

  • Tends to be deterministic, implying once a label has been applied a deviant career is inevitable. 
  • Realist sociologists will argue that it ignores the real victims of crime as it emphasises negative effects of labelling by giving the offender a victim status.
  • Assumes offenders are passive victims of labelling and ignores the fact the they may actively choose to be deviant.


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