Assess the View That Crime and Deviance Are the Product of Labelling Processes.

811 Words Jan 5th, 2012 4 Pages
Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the view that crime and deviance are the product of labelling processes.

Some sociologists believe that the cause of crime and deviance is labelling which is when a label is attached to a person or group of people due to their appearance, sex, ethnicity etc. Labelling theory argues that once this label has been attached it can create a self fulfilling prophecy, which is when the person begins to act according to the label and hence it comes true simply through being made. Labelling is similar to stereotyping but this is when a person assigns certain characteristics to a labelled group. An example to support this would be 9/11. Since this disaster people label Muslims as being terrorists
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For example, middle class are often able to get themselves out of trouble due to their cultural capital.

Studies of policing support this as they show that police are more likely to stop and search or arrest men from working class backgrounds or ethnic minorities as they believe that there behaviour is ‘suspicious’, again showing how social control agents label. Interactions say that this is because the police have an idea of what a typical criminal looks like, and these things fit that idea. By the police labelling them they may create self fulfilling prophecies in which case labelling these people in the first place would be creating more crime and deviance.

Becker’s view is also supported by Cicourel who looks at police and probation officers in California. He had similar findings to other police studies as he found that officers were more likely to arrest people who they saw as typical offenders. This meant that law enforcement showed a class bias and that the police spent more time patrolling poorer areas hence arresting more working class people. This then made it seem as though there stereotypes were correct when in fact it was just that they were watching these areas more closely than middle class areas.

Furthermore, Cicourel looked at other social control agents within the criminal justice system beside the police and found that they were also bias in terms of who they labelled as…