Labelling Theory

2875 Words Aug 1st, 2005 12 Pages
Becker was influenced by the following: Charles Cooley 's Human Nature and the Social Order (1902) examines the personal perception of oneself through studies of children and their imaginary friends. Cooley develops the theoretical concept of the looking glass self, a type of imaginary sociability (Cooley 1902). People imagine the view of themselves through the eyes of others in their social circles and form judgements of themselves based on these imaginary observations (Cooley 1902). The main idea of the looking glass self is that people define themselves according to society 's perception of them (www.d.umn.edu ). Cooley 's ideas, coupled with the works of Mead, are very important to labeling theory and its approach to a person 's …show more content…
Becker 's approach has its roots in the symbolic interaction foundation of Cooley and Mead, and the labeling influences of Tannenbaum and Lemert. Howard Becker 's approach to the labeling of deviance, as described in Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (1963), views deviance as the creation of social groups and not the quality of some act or behavior. Becker (1963) criticizes other theories of deviance for accepting the existence of deviance and by doing so, accept the values of the majority within the social group. According to Becker (1963), studying the act of the individual is unimportant because deviance is simply rule breaking behavior that is labeled deviant by persons in positions of power. The rule breaking behavior is constant, the labeling of the behavior varies (Becker 1963). Becker (1963) describes rules as the reflection of certain social norms held by the majority of a society, whether formal or informal. Enforced rules, the focus of Becker 's (1963) approach, are applied differentially and usually facilitate certain favorable consequences for those who apply the label. In short, members of the rule-making society may label rule breaking behavior deviant depending on the degree of reaction over time (Becker 1963). Becker (1963) views those people that are likely to engage in rule breaking behavior as
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