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The Social Reaction, or Labeling Theory because it is commonly known as, is promoting with time from as soon as 1938 (Wellford, 1975). Presently the Social Reaction Theory proposes that whenever an individual commits a criminal offense they’ll get the label of “criminal”. When one is called such by society, they will probably accept this label as part of themselves. Since the person now thinks about him/herself like a criminal, he/she’s now prone to continue in theOrher criminal behavior (Becker, 1963).
Erwin Lemert is credited with to be the founder of what’s known as the “Societal Reaction” theory. This is actually the precursor towards the social reaction or labeling theory that has current day acceptance and includes most of the same concepts. To higher understand Labeling Theory, familiarization with Lemert’s Societal Reaction Theory is advantageous. This theory explores your way to social deviance in 2 stages primary deviance and secondary deviance, that are both integrated into Labeling Theory too.
Primary deviance starts with a preliminary criminal act, then you might be called deviant or criminal but doesn’t yet accept this label. With this it’s resulted in they don’t consider themselves like a criminal, it is primarily the insufficient viewing themselves as criminal that differentiates primary from secondary deviance. This can remain a condition of primary deviance as lengthy because the offender is capable of doing rationalizing or coping with this label by saying it’s the effect of a socially acceptable role (Lemert, 1951). A good example of this is a very beautiful dancer, who while called deviant, doesn’t consider herself so by claiming it’s a legal profession that they must perform to be able to maintain an earnings.
When resulting in secondary deviance, this criminal label is positioned with an individual during what is known a “degradation ceremony” where the accused is formally called a criminal. Frequently this happens during court sentencing, but could happen in additional subtle fashions too. As an example the relatives of the person become withdrawn and distance themselves from that individual once they discover he/she’s committed a criminal offense, whether or not or otherwise he/she faces formal charges (Wellford, 1975).
Secondary deviance, based on Lemert, takes place when an individual finally accepts the deviant or criminal label to their self image. He/She then thinks or him/herself like a criminal or deviant. “This turns into a way of defense, attack, or adaptation towards the problems brought on by societal response to primary deviation (Lemert, 1951)”.
Howard Becker is hailed because the founding father of modern labeling theory. Also, he developed the word “moral entrepreneur” to explain persons in power who campaign to possess certain deviant behavior outlawed (Becker, 1963). He claims that lots of laws and regulations are in place for such purposes, which behavior that is understood to be criminal is dynamic and changes throughout time. Therefore, the particular criminal behavior does not matter towards the theory. What really matters is which outlaws are arrested and processed through the criminal justice system (Becker, 1963). Because of the fact that personal and societal factors don’t lead to motivations for criminal behavior there’s been little study from the criminal him/herself and also the aforesaid factors. As you might expect, this facet of Labeling Theory continues to be debated. There’s one exception for this belief, however most labeling theorists declare that the machine is biased toward the low class, which constitutes the overwhelming most of arrests and convictions inside the American criminal justice system (Wellford, 1975).
Becker’s work pays particular focus on the way in which society reacts to individuals with “criminal” labels. He proposes this label turns into a person’s master status, and therefore this can be a constant label, affecting and also over-riding how others will view them. The status people use to recognize and classify you continually be what criminal. Every other statuses an individual occupies aren’t heeded. One could be considered a parent, worker, spouse, etc., but the foremost and major status which will spring to mind with other people and themselves is the criminal (Becker, 1963).
Sometimes the individual’s criminal master status may compel these to conform more carefully to society’s norms so that they can show others the person might have made mistakes in existence, but such mistakes won’t happen again. Henceforth they’ll act inside a fashion considered “normal” (Promote & Dinitz & Reckless, 1972). But it’s thought that generally in which the master status is a criminal, secondary deviance is going to be completed instead of opposed. A name change will occur where the person now accepts the label of criminal. As this new criminal identity is within place, there’s subsequent pressure some thing accordingly. This kind of identity change might be signaled with a person losing connection with their former conformist buddies and starting to affiliate along with other criminal labeled deviants (Becker, 1963). This latest peer number of like-minded deviants also increases the probability of the individual ongoing and perhaps escalating the speed and significance of the criminal behavior. Secondary deviance only has happened when both society and also the individual share the vista the offender is really a criminal.
From the logical perspective you will find flaws inside the primary points of labeling theory. Initially the idea claims that no functions are inherently criminal (Wellford, 1975). And therefore functions are just “criminal” when society has considered them as a result. The implications of the because criminal law is dynamic and ever-altering, differing from society to society. But if this sounds like true then how come certain functions illegal within a lot of the western world? Murder, rape, arson, armed robbery. These types of considered crimes in almost any society or country you could choose to name.
Even the theory claims that for any criminal to become effectively labeled a crowd should be present to supply a response to the crimes committed. Performs this imply that if your murder is committed in which the killer has effectively prevented anyone’s suspicion the act will be not criminal and also the killer won’t consider him/herself as a result? It’s probable the murderer’s socialization and/or value system could initialize self-labeling, however the theory clearly states the labeling must originate from a third party (Hagan, 1973).
With regard to argument, if self labeling can be done and an individual has acquired a self-initialized criminal master status/label, how can they respond to it? Will they become crooks or attempt to “rationalize” as mentioned by Promote, Dinitz, and Reckless (Promote & Dinitz & Reckless, 1972)?
The scope of the theory is suggested to pay for all criminal activity of people no matter different nationality, ethnicity, social status, religion, and age (Becker, 1963). Since that time criminologists happen to be, at the minimum, skeptical. Inside a study of drunk motorists it had been figured that socioeconomic status, race, sex, and age can certainly influence whether labeling theory impacts people. Regrettably it wasn’t specified just how all these factors altered the result labeling theory had around the study subjects. Presumably these study results reflected actual behavior variations which were reacted to differently by others (Marshall & Purdy, 1972).
The main one facet of this theory that may be considered positively is it is extremely parsimonious. You can easily understand and could be rapidly described, breaking lower all criminal behavior into secondary and primary deviance having a couple of simple statements for every. An action that has been called deviant or criminal is committed by part of society. Most likely through an individual audience for example family or buddies, or perhaps a formal one like a court the individual undergoes a degradation ceremony which labels the individual deviant. This really is basically primary deviance. Once the labeled individual is not able to carry on to rationalize and deny this criminal label, frequently because of altered interactions using the “audience” who think about the part of question to become criminal, they finally accept this label as part of themselves. This really is secondary deviance. (I believe this can be a restatement from the definitions from earlier within the paper. To aid the outlet sentence, possibly note WHY the idea is parsimonius. Parsimony simply asks how complex the idea is. If it’s simple and short, then it’s parsimonious. The purpose of this would be to show that it may be summarized inside a couple of simple sentances) From here forward they’ll act in ways suitable for this latest criminal label (Scimecca, 1977).
For that purpose of validity this relative simplicity is visible negatively because it steals the idea of the items value it might have, deliberately turning a blind eye towards the contributions of theories of criminology which have had positive results in validating their(whose claims? Nearly any theory of criminology concentrating on the person you can choose to name, you will find dozens with countless variants) claims. This really is in specific mention of personal and societal factors a person exhibits which might lead to the probability of committing crimes pointed out earlier (Wellford, 1975).
It might be presumptuous to state this theory isn’t testable as several research has been performed in tries to observe how greatly labeling theory affects different servings of the people. There are many core variables, because both versions is problematic, that need considering. The very first is and not the initial act of committing a criminal offense, but an “audience” learning from the crime being committed. Because it was already described, when the audience does not understand about the crime then this is because far because the process goes.
The second reason is the audience’s response to this act and subsequent treatment of the individual who committed it. Inside a study of the sample of 196 boys who’d involved in delinquent activities introduced before a court, it had been found that almost all the subjects’ peers and fogeys exhibited little alternation in the way they viewed and treated the delinquents (Promote & Dinitz & Reckless, 1972). Though these children did experience feelings of stigmatization from people of police force, getting gone through the degradation ceremony inside a court, they reported this sort of feeling were minimal when compared with individuals whose family people no more viewed them for the same reason. Out of this we are able to conclude that both who the crowd is composed of in addition to their reactions affects the amount of stigmatization the labeled individual feels, or no.
The 3rd variable is presently available to debate. Hardcore supporters from the labeling theory still assert the personality of the baby undergoing stigmatization does not matter. Inside a study from the societal reaction approach as it requires mental illness, Dr. Walter Grove saw there were certain characteristics people might have which will make them particularly resistant against labeling and stigmatization. Individuals individuals with such characteristics didn’t see themselves as deviant despite what other people might have thought (Broadhead, 1974).
After searching in the study results I continue to be believing that this theory could be effectively tested because there are a lot of unknowns. Inside a later work Lemert finally conceded that “primary deviation, is polygenetic, arising from a number of social, cultural, mental, and physiological factors” (Broadhead, 1974). But he along with other believers of the theory happen to be strangely enough reticent in trying to further define these 4 elements. Up to now no study continues to be tried to more precisely condition the character of those factors and just how they’d modify the criminal’s response to primary deviance. Consequently these 4 elements, that could be looked at confounders, greatly hinder any attempt for the operationalization of the theory.
The 3 known variables can’t be measured effectively, nor can the confounders for instance. Essentially, all that may be studied is caused by this method, mainly concentrating on whether career crooks see themselves within the light based on secondary deviance and just what the first reaction society displays is, in addition to the way it affects individuals labeled deviant or criminal.
The greatest question you have to ask when looking for any theory is “has it been empirically validated?” Within this situation research has proven little when it comes to how this method works, this aspect continues to be mainly theoretical. There has been lots of studies which assess the conclusion of the process, how crooks view themselves both however and secondary deviance stages. The outcomes of those research is somewhat included that some provide weak validation with this theory given certain conditions, the most powerful which being study regarding delinquent behavior in youngsters by Promote, Dinitz, and Reckless who’d experienced primary deviance and stigmatization to some small degree (Promote & Dinitz & Reckless, 1972).
Most the studies had findings perform a fine job of disproving social reactions theory. A good example of this is the research by Dentler and Erickson, who figured that ” groups, and society in particular will most likely attempt to accommodate, normalize, as well as in general resist making an overt response to people exhibiting deviant behavior” (Broadhead, 1974). If this sounds like true than individuals will withhold judgment and stigmatization won’t occur, effectively refuting social reactions theory.
By itself this theory may not be helpful in dictating insurance policy for the criminal justice system, but there’s the chance to be used in rehabilitation of criminal offenders. In a tiny study of kid behavior after punishment, it had been discovered that when the audience held the offender inside a positive regard, the offender was prone to rise to those expectations and act inside a manner suitable for a “good boy” (Wellford, 1975). In this manner you’ll be able to use labeling theory inside a more lucrative manner.
The implications from the study results claim that a couple of things can be achieved to be able to assist in preventing labeling theory from getting unwanted effects on people who’ve damaged what the law states. To begin with when the court atmosphere might be prevented in situations in which the crime were minor offenses or misdemeanors its likely the offender could avoid formal sentencing and also the degradation ceremony which goes by using it. In such instances rehabilitative therapy and out-of-court settlements could be more suitable. Another possibility is the fact that a proper ceremony which may cancel the stigma connected using the degradation ceremony might be held. Possibly a court declaration or letter the offender is hereby rehabilitated might be used following the offender has offered his/her punishment (Broadhead, 1974).
The social reactions theory is unquestionably problematic in lots of ways, however it provides some understanding of how both formal and social audiences may have a negative impact on the criminal while increasing the probability of repeat offenses. This theory has merit for the reason that there’s the possibility so that it is integrated into a bigger, more inclusive, theory of criminology.
Becker, H. S. (1963). Outsiders: Studies within the Sociology of Deviance. New You are able to: The Disposable Press
Broadhead, R. S. (1974). A Theoretical Critique from the Societal Reaction Method of Deviance. The Off-shore Sociological Review, Vol. 17, No. 3, 287-312.
Promote, J. D., Dinitz, S. & Reckless, W. C. (1972). Perceptions of Stigma following Public Intervention for Delinquent Behavior. Social Problems, Vol. 20, No. 2, 202-209.
Hagan, J. (1973). Labeling and Deviance: A Situation Study in “the Sociology from the Interesting”. Social Problems, Vol. 20, No. 4, 447-458.
Lemert, E. M. (1951). Social Pathology. New You are able to: MacGraw-Hill Book Co., Corporation.
Marshall, H. & Purdy, R. (1972). Hidden Deviance and also the Labeling Approach: The Situation for Consuming and Driving. Social Problems, Vol. 19, No. 4, 541-553.
Scimecca, J. A. (1977). Labeling Theory and private Construct Theory: Toward the Measurement of person Variation. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-), Vol. 68, No. 4, 652-659.
Wellford, C. (1975). Labeling Theory and Criminology: An Exam. Social Problems, Vol. 22, No. 3, 332-345.
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