The Contribution of the Labelling Theory to Our Understanding of Crime and Deviancy

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The Contribution of the Labelling Theory to Our Understanding of Crime and Deviancy

We can call a label, or define it as; a mark, name, or even badge.

Something is only deviant, or becomes deviant because someone has been successful in labelling it as, deviancy is ambiguous, definitions differ from society to society or even culture to culture.

Calling something deviant is a reaction to a type of behaviour.

The labelling theory is very complex, it asks why some people committing crimes are named deviant but others are not.

Labelling theorists believe when you label offenders as criminals, yobs, this has negative consequences, deepening and worsening the criminal behaviour.

There are
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A strength of labelling theory approach to deviance is that it not only concentrates on the social reaction to deviance committed by individuals, as well as concentrating on the interaction processes leading to the labelling, these being two important elements of the theory.

The effects on the Individual of labelling are especially important.

Having being labelled, as a deviant, the individual according to Becker, then will accept the label, and for example turn to the life of crime, possibly with the help of a deviant subculture, feeling they have no other alternative.

The last part of the labelling theory is,’ deviant career’, this being when the labelled criminal evolves into a complete, absolute deviant.

Kai T Erikson (1966) also highlights the way social reaction affects the individual, he supports and reinforces what Becker suggests, he further suggests that deviance in a society is essential, and is beneficial for creating a boundary between good and evil.

Furthermore there are a number of policy implications to do with the labelling theory, a vast majority of them are impractical, such as the emphasis on rehabilitation, in helping the offenders be rehabilitated from the label, although negatively some will not agree to participate in this.

Another implication is that criminal law