The Strengths Of Labelling Theory And Differential Association Theory

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In this paper I argue that Labelling Theory can explain the factor of low socioeconomic status while Differential Association Theory can explain how the factor of family as reasons why some youth join gangs. This paper compares the relative strengths and weaknesses of Differential Association theory and Labelling theory and I argue that Labelling Theory offers the most compelling theoretical perspective to help account for how these factors influence youth to join gangs. I also argue that unlike the other two theories, a Marxist approach deals with the issue of why youth join gangs by investigating the broad effects of inequality in society. “The theory of Differential Association by Edwin H. Sutherland falls under the tradition of the…show more content…
Sutherland’s theory offered scholar’s of his time period and of present day a unique theory that aimed to provide a general explanation of all types of crime”. (Hudson 2017) Labelling Theory proposes that a person’s identity and behaviour are influenced by the labels society uses to classify them into a social category(Lilly et al. 2015). The theory is rooted in the concepts of symbolic interaction and social construction. Labelling theorists believe that no act itself is inherently criminal, instead it is society’s reaction that determines whether a crime has occurred. Furthermore society’s reaction is driven by “extra legal factors such as an offender’s race, class, and gender”(Lilly et al. 2015 in determining who is labelled as a criminal. The consequence is a Criminal Justice System that disproportionately targets minorities and deviant subcultures(Lilly et al. 2015. This idea that extra legal factors, and not the act, are what decides who is labelled is the first main tenant of Labelling Theory. Unlike earlier schools of criminology, such as the Positivist and Chicago camps, which looked for causes of crime within the offender or their social environment, labelling theorists began to propose a rather ironic idea. The idea was that crime was caused by the societal reaction towards the offender, and that the Criminal Justice System, whose manifest function is
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