Labeling Theory and Its Impact Essay

1360 Words6 Pages
Introduction: Have you ever experienced a time when your parents called you a genius and you truly felt like one? How about when a professor pointed fingers at you because he thought you were cheating on a test? Most certainly you felt some type of shame or guilt; or probably got so tired of your colleagues negative thoughts that you decided to embrace it and just go along with it. These are just a few examples of the impact that people’s opinions or thoughts can have on your reputation. Think for a second about the Stanford Prison Experiment, which demonstrates the influential role that a situation can play in human behavior. The individuals chosen to perform as guards were placed in a position of power and thus they began…show more content…
Labeling theorists suggest that labeling individuals as deviant has the potential of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy (Globokar, 2008). Howard Becker has described deviance as a “consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’; the deviant is one to whom the label has successfully been applied; deviant behavior is behavior people so label” (Clinard & Meier, 2011:89). Culture, sex, age and other elements of identity all shape self-conception, but the meanings that an individual places on various circumstances and interactions certainly play a very important role as well. It becomes difficult to normally interact with others once there is a negative impact of an individual’s reputation and the conception and expectations of others reinforces that reputation. I am very familiar with the effect that labeling can have on a person. My uncle in Cuba is a great example of what labeling can do to your persona. I grew up very close to him and remember always going on trips and he would play around with all the time; to me he was the greatest uncle in the world. One day I heard a comment that slipped out of the mouth of some friends and they referred to my uncle as a “thief” or “ratero”. It appeared that my uncle due to the need of food decided to “borrow” a chicken from a neighbor’s backyard; got caught and from there he obtained a new reputation. I
Open Document