Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere Assess the View That Crime and Deviance Are the Product of Labelling Processes.

705 Words Apr 4th, 2013 3 Pages
Assess the view that crime and deviance are the products of the labelling process (21 marks)

The labelling theory is a micro interactionist approach, this is because it focuses on how individuals construct the social world through face-face interactions. It recognises the concept of the ‘procedural self’ where ones identity is continuously constructed and recognised in interaction with significant others, this results in the individual’s behaviour, including that related to crime and deviance.

Significant others are those who are in high social power and thus able to dictate influence and actively determine an individual’s life. Such individuals may include police officers, prison officers, politicians, parents and teachers.
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Police then labelled and persecuted hippies for their behaviour, excluding them from normal society. AS a result a deviant subculture emerged where hippies retreated into closed groups, grew hair out long, wore eccentric clothes and drug use became a central activity.

Gove argued that there are two consequences of labelling: creation of sigma, modification of self images. Stigma is the negative branding of an individual and refers to the public condemnation and exclusion of the criminal. The media tend to exaggerate the behaviour of such people, causing increased fear and moral panic in society, resulting in avoidance and constantly being treated with suspicion. Becker refers to a ‘master status’ where once a person is labelled all of their actions are interpreted in light of the label and only negative aspects of that individual’s behaviour are focussed on.
Because of the stigma created from the label a modification of self image occurs in the individual. The individual essentially lives up to their deviant label, becoming the person described in the label. The process of deviancy amplification whereby any punishments or treatment therefore reinforce the individual perception of the criminal, thus more crimes fitting to the label are carried out. This theory can however by criticised because it is determinist, where individuals have n control over the process and once they have been labelled they will inevitably turn…