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Labeling Theory Essay

  • Submitted by: Clarievic3102
  • on March 1, 2011
  • Category: Social Issues
  • Length: 404 words

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Below is an essay on "Labeling Theory" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

While studying the causes of crime one will come across countless theories as to why people decide to commit crimes; a common criminology theory is Labeling Theory. One must first grasp the concept of what Labeling Theory really is. Through this it will become apparent that there are different levels of deviance, and in order for one to fully comprehend Labeling Theory it is imperative they understand what roles different levels of deviant behavior plays in the development of future deviant behavior. Labeling Theory – also referred to as Social Reaction Theory – is essentially the notion that people take part in criminal activity when they are labeled in a negative way. Such labels carry a stigma with them, often resulting in these individuals to accept the “label” as their personal identity and never moving away from that criminal lifestyle. For example, a teen that is convicted of a crime and sent to a juvenile detention center to serve time instead of taking part in some sort of rehabilitation will typically carry that “criminal” label with them for the rest of their life. This individual will be looked at and treated differently because of this label and will eventually come to accept it.  
A well-known aspect of the labeling process is the concept of primary and secondary deviance. According to Siegel primary deviance involves violations that have “…little or no long-term influence on the violator” (2011:187). Where secondary deviance is a “…violation that comes to the attention of significant others or social control agents, who apply a negative label that has long-term consequences for the violator’s self-identity and social interactions” (Siegel 2011:188). Regarding primary and secondary deviance’s role in the development of future deviant behavior, primary deviance will typically have little bearing on the violator’s future life due to the fact that they were not labeled and ostracized by society. Secondary deviance however, greatly impacts future deviant...

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