Labeling Theory And Self Identity

1155 WordsJan 23, 20175 Pages
Labeling theory holds that individuals come to identify and act as per their labels. The major tenet of this theory is that the behavior and self-identity of individuals is affected by the way they are described by other people (Vold, Bernard, Snipes, & Gerould, 2016). According to this theory, the act of deviance is not implicit in a particular act, but is hedged on the inclination of the majority to ascribe labels to minorities in society who deviate from standard behavior. Labeling leads to dramatization of a particular act – which propagates the behavioral clash between the individual and the community. Through ascribing labels, the individuals acquire a negative self-image. The individuals accept themselves as labeled by the…show more content…
He noted that other sociological theories of crime believed that since crime is bad, individuals involved in crime are also inherently bad. Tannenbaum disputed the notion perpetrated by other sociological theories that crime was the result of the individual’s inability to adjust to the society. On the contrary, he argued that deviants view themselves as part of a particular group in the society, where their behavior is acceptable by other group members. The “looking-glass self” clearly explains how deviant behavior arises among juveniles. Under this concept, the social self is seen as the image that one internalizes out of how others define him or her (Winters, Globokar, & Roberson, 2014). The society is thus like a mirror or the ‘looking glass’ through which one sees the self. According to the proponents of the labeling theory, the ‘looking glass’ have a significant impact on one’s behavior. For instance, when a person construes that other seem him/her as lazy, that person will likely act lazy in order to fulfill the ascription. This is the same as self-fulfilling. In line with this concept, when youths face arrests, they are kept with other criminals and are labeled criminals. This gives the particular youth different experiences. The youth may develop new friendships while in prison or join gangs. While the youth leaves prison, he/she is likely to continue with criminal behavior. Labeling theory
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