Labeling Theories And Labeling Theory

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Labeling theory focuses on the formal and informal application of stigmatization of deviant labels or social “tags” by society on some of its members. The process of labeling involves an engagement of “Social groups [that] create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling them as outsiders. From this point of view deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an “offender.” (Becker 1963). This theory treats such labels as both dependent and independent variables. Exclusively, it views labels as dependent or effect variable when it attempts to explain why certain behaviors are socially defined as wrong and certain individuals are socially selected and linked to such labels; ultimately, stigmatizing the person as deviant. In contrast, labeling theory also views labels as the independent factors or causes when it hypothesizes that discrediting labels cause continuation and escalation of the criminal or delinquent behavior. Labeling theory tries to explain the differential application of official stigmatizing labels. Labeling theory emerged as a perspective rather that a scientific theory (Cohn and Farrington 2012). After an initial enthusiasm in the 60’s and 70’s the theory followed disillusionment in the 90’s. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that scholars tried to revive the theory. The aim of
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