Labelling Theories' Contribution to the Sociological Understanding of Crime and Deviance

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Labelling Theories' Contribution to the Sociological Understanding of Crime and Deviance

Becker is the main sociologist studying labelling theory on deviance, he argues that 'social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance.' Meaning acts only become deviant when observers perceive it and define it as deviant. An example of this would be the act of nudity, it is accepted in the bedroom between husband and wife or on a nudist camp, but when a stranger was to enter the bedroom, or someone was to streak across a sporting event, others would usually see this as deviant, and this deviancy would become a label on the individual.

Several factors affect what the
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Which in turn could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy because of being identified with the label and it becomes controlling.

Once these steps have occurred, what Becker describes as 'the deviant career' is completed when the individual joins an organised deviant group and thus accepting their identity of being deviant.

However, this is not by any means inevitable and some of those who started out as convicts or drug addicts can become 'straight' and get jobs or quit their habits.

When Becker identified that he took a 'sequential' approach he means how he explains deviance and at any stage in the sequence of his explanation it is possible that the deviant will re-enter conventional society.

Lemmert also uses the interactionist perspective in his view of labelling, outlining primary and secondary deviance, primary being the act before it is publicly labelled and secondary being the response of the individual or 'deviant' to the reactions of others in society. But he sees the agents of social control to blame for deviance rather than the traditional views of the blame lying with the 'deviant' individual or group.

This labelling theory has contributed two concepts to help understand the relationship between media and crime:

· Deviancy amplification, Lesley Wilkins points out that a response to deviant acts by media and the police can actually