Labelling theory



SWK 1002

Outline labelling theory and see its utility in understanding young person offense and anti-social behavior in Britain today.

Labeling theory is the act of naming, the deployment of linguistic communication to confabulate and repair the significances of behavior and symbolic internationalism and phenomenology.Tannenbaum, ( 1938 ) defines labelling as the procedure of doing the condemnable by using procedures of tagging, specifying, placing, segregating, depicting, underscoring, doing witting and self witting.

Labeling theory claims that aberrance and conformance consequences non so much from what people do but from how others respond to those actions, it highlights societal responses to offense and aberrance Macionis and Plummer, ( 2005 ) .Deviant behavior is hence socially constructed. This essay will depict in full the labelling theory and remark on the importance of the theory to the aberrant behavior of the young person and the anti-social behavior of the young person in Britain today.

The labelling theory becomes dominant in the early 1960s and the late seventiess when it was used as a sociological theory of offense influential in disputing Orthodox positiveness criminology. The cardinal people to this theory were Becker and Lement.The foundations of this position of aberrance are said to hold been foremost established by Lement, ( 1951 ) and were later developed by Becker, ( 1963 ) .As a affair of fact the labelling theory has later become a dominant paradigm in the account of devience.The symbolic interaction position was highly active in the early foundations of the labelling theory. The labelling theory is constituted by the premise that aberrant behavior is to be seen non merely as the misdemeanor of a norm but as any behavior which is successfully defined or labelled as pervert. Deviance is non the act itself but the response others give to that act which means aberrance is in the eyes of the perceiver. Actually the labelling theory was built on Becker, ( 1963:9 ) statement that “ Social groups create aberrance by doing the regulations whose misdemeanor constitute aberrance, and by using those regulations to peculiar people and labelling them as foreigners — — aberrance is non a quality of the act of a individual commits, but instead a effects of the application by others of regulations and countenances to an ‘offender ‘ The pervert is one to whom that label has successfully been applied.

Deviant behavior is behaviour that people so label. ” The manner out is a refusal to dramatise the immorality. The labelling theory connects to great sociological thoughts of Dukheim the symbolic interactionism and the struggle theory. The theory besides draws from the thought of Thomas ( 1928 ) that when people define state of affairss as existent they become existent in their effects.

Lement, ( 1951-1972 ) distinguishes aberrance into primary and secondary aberrance in which he described primary aberrance as those small reactions from others which have small consequence on a individual ‘s ego construct and secondary aberrance as when people push a aberrant individual out of their societal circles which leads the individual to be embittered and seek the company of the people who condone his behaviour.Lement farther argued that instead than seeing a offense as taking to command it may be more fruitful to see the procedure as one in which control bureaus structured and even generated offense. Secondary aberrance leads to what Goffman ( 1963 ) pervert calling. This will later leads to stigma which is a powerful negative societal label that radically changes a individual ‘s ego construct and societal individuality. A condemnable prosecution is one manner that an person is labelled in a negative instead than in a positive manner. Stigmatizing people frequently leads to retrospective labelling which is the reading of person ‘s past consistent with the present aberrance Seheff ; ( 1984 ) .Retrospective labelling distorts a individual ‘s life in a damaging manner guided by stigma than any effort to be just.

ALSO READ  Social Policy Essays - Instant Divorce Couples

No societal category stands apart from others as being either condemnable or free from criminalism. However harmonizing to assorted sociologists people with less interest in society and their ain hereafter typically exhibit less opposition to some sorts of devience.Labelling theory asks what happens to felons after they have been labelled and suggests that offense may be highlighted by condemnable countenances therefore directing one to prison may assist to outlaw an single further. Stigmatizing immature wrongdoers may really take them into a condemnable calling. Howard S.Becker, ( 1963 ) one of the earlier interaction theoreticians claimed that societal groups create aberrance by doing the regulations whose misdemeanor constitute aberrance and by using those regulations to peculiar people and labelling them as foreigners. Furthermore the

labelling theoretical attack to deviance dressed ores on the societal reaction to deviance committed by persons every bit good as the interaction processes taking up to the labelling.

The theory therefore suggests that criminology has been given excessively much attending to felons as types of people and deficient attending to the aggregation of societal control responses. That hence means the jurisprudence, the constabulary, the media and the public publications helps to give offense its form. This is supported by the struggle theory which demonstrates how aberrance reflects inequalities and power.This attack holds that the causes of offense may be linked to inequalities of category, race and gender and that who or what is labelled as aberrant depends on the comparative power of classs of people.Cicourel ‘s survey on Juvenile justness in California, ( 1972 ) pointed out that constabulary stereotypes result in black, white category young person being labelled felon. The struggle theory links aberrance to power in the signifier of the norms and the Torahs of most societies which bolster the involvements of the rich and powerful.

The labelling theory links deviance non to action but to the reaction of others.The construct of stigma, secondary aberrance and aberrant calling demonstrates how people can integrate the label of aberrance into a permanent self-concept. Political leaders recognises that labelling was a political act for it made them aware on which regulations to implement, what behavior is to see as pervert and which people labelled as foreigners may necessitate political aid Becker, ( 1963-7 ) .Political leaders went on to bring forth a series of empirical surveies refering the beginnings of deviancy definitions through political actions in countries such as drugs statute law, moderation statute law, delinquency definitions, homosexualism, harlotry and erotica.

Becker, ( 1963 ) examines the possible effects upon an person after being publically labelled as pervert. A label is non impersonal ; it contains an rating of the individual to whom it is applied. It will go a maestro label in the sense that it colours all the other positions possessed by an person. If one is labelled as a pedophile, condemnable or homosexual it is hard to reject such labels for those labels mostly overrides their original position as parents, worker, neighbour and friend. Others view that individual

ALSO READ  Can social policy at an EU level be justified?

and respond to him or her in footings of the label and be given to presume that person has the negative features usually associated with such labels. Since an person ‘s ego construct is mostly derived from the responses of others they will be given to see themselves in footings of that label. This may bring forth a ego carry throughing prognostication whereby the aberrant designation becomes the commanding 1. This links to the interactionist attack which emphasizes the importance of the significances the assorted histrions bring to and develops within the interaction state of affairs.

However the labelling theory has its failings which includes Liazos, ( 1972 ) who noted that although the labelling theoreticians aims to humanize the aberrant person and show that he or she is no different than other persons except possibly in footings of chance. It nevertheless by the really accent on the pervert and his individuality jobs and subculture the opposite consequence may hold been achieved. He farther suggested that while sing the more usual mundane types of aberrance such as homosexualism, harlotry and juvenile delinquency the labelling theoreticians have wholly ignored a more unsafe and malevolent types of aberrance which he termed covert institutional force. He pointed out that this type of force leads to such things as poorness and development for illustration the war in Vietnam, unfair revenue enhancement Torahs, racism and sexism. It is questionable whether labelling theoreticians should even try to discourse signifiers of aberrance such as this in the same manner as more platitude single offenses or whether the two should be kept wholly separate being so different in capable affair.

Akers, ( 1994 ) besides criticized the labelling theory by indicating out that it fails to explicate why people break the jurisprudence while the bulk conform explicating that people go about minding their ain concern and so wham-bad society comes along and stops them with a stigmatised label. The theory fails to explicate why the moral enterprisers react in the mode described but instead incriminations society and portrays felons as inexperienced person victims which is non ever the instance.

To counter for the negative effects of punitory steps to youth offense and anti-social behavior the British authorities introduced the ASBO and ABC which means anti

societal behavior orders and acceptable behaviors respectively.ASBO and ABC are recent developments in Britain which were designed to set a halt to anti-social behavior by the person on whom they are imposed.ASBO is a statutory creative activity and it carries legal force where as an ABC is an informal process though non without legal significance. Both types of intercessions are aimed at halting the job behavior instead than penalizing the wrongdoer which may take an single into a aberrant calling. The ABC proved most effectual as a agency of promoting immature grownups, kids and parents to take duty for unacceptable behavior. These steps are being used to better the quality of life for local people by undertaking behaviors such as torment, graffito, condemnable harm and verbal maltreatment without outlawing the wrongdoer.

ALSO READ  Landmarks in social welfare provision

The offense and upset act ( 1998 ) contains the cardinal elements of labor ‘s new young person justness system which saw the constitution of the young person justness and the restructuring of the non tutelary punishments available to the young person tribunal. The authorities believed that forestalling piquing promotes the public assistance of the single immature wrongdoer and protects the populace. The young person justness board oversees the young person piquing squads which has a figure of functions including measuring the hazard and protective factors in a immature individual ‘s life that relate to their piquing behavior to enable effectual intercessions to be implemented, supplying support to immature people who have been released from the detention into the community and early intercession and preventive work both in criminalism and anti-social behavior.

To further cut down the effects of labelling the British authorities is undertaking anti-social behavior and its causes by undertaking household jobs, hapless instruction attainment, unemployment, intoxicant and drug abuse. The most successful intercessions to be implemented where noted to be those that engage the person in altering their ain behavior. This is being done guaranting that an single understands the impact of their behavior to the community whilst offering the necessary support to conform.

Rather than labelling and outlawing an single the British authorities came up with effectual advice, councelling and support that enable people who behave anti-

Socially to alter their behavior. Perpetrators immature and grownups have issues in their lives that require the aid and support of professional, statutory or voluntary administrations. Issues like money direction and debt, communicating troubles with the household, immature people fighting within the educational or employment because of piquing behavior and victims of domestic force can all profit from available services in Britain today.

This essay hence concludes that labelling theory is tremendously influential in directing attending towards the relation and slightly arbitrary nature of dominant definitions of offense and criminalism in Britain. It besides critizes the condemnable justness and the bureaus of societal control for it reflects on the effects of our societal reaction and advocators for alterations in public policy on juvenile justness, renewing justness, de-institutionalisation and communitarian attacks. The powerful penetrations of the labelling theory made the British governments to rethink once more on the tough on offense stance hence the debut of new renewing steps which does non label or outlaw immature wrongdoers. The labelling theory is hence rather utile in understanding that the rise in the yob civilization, gang civilization and hoody civilization in Britain was a consequence of outlawing immature wrongdoers instead than turn toing issues taking the immature into offense and anti-social behavior.

Wordss 2010


Berker and Howard, S ( 1963 ) Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of aberrance, New York: free imperativeness

Goffman, E ( 1963 ) Stigma: Notes on the direction of spoilt individuality, Prentice-hall

Hall, S ( 1978 ) Patroling the crisis, The Macmillan imperativeness LTD

Haralambos, M and Holborn ( 1991 ) Sociology subjects and positions, Collins instruction.

Macionis, J and Plummer, K ( 2005 ) Sociology a planetary debut, Pearson instruction limited.

Taylor et Al, ( 1973 ) the new criminology for a societal theory of devience, Routledge