SOCI 2445 Lecture Notes - Labeling Theory, Symbolic Interactionism, Anomie

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Published on 17 Apr 2013
School
Carleton University
Department
Sociology
Course
SOCI 2445
Professor
1
SOCI 2445 A
Sociology of Deviance
Lecture Four: Constructionist Theories of Deviance
POSITIVIST THEORIES
-Anomie Strain Theories
-Social Learning Theories
-Control Theories
Positivist theories are based on scientific evidence. Positivism is ONE set of
perspectives to understanding deviance and criminal behaviour.
Criminal Behaviour vs. Deviant Behaviour
All crimes are deviant, but not all deviance is crime. Crimes are written laws. Deviant
behaviour is more widespread than criminal behaviour; there are more examples of
deviance. Deviance can also apply in positive or negative terms, whereas criminal
behaviour is generally negative. We like to think that we are above animals greater
than them. However, there is nothing that compares to the atrocities capable by the
species of “homo sapiens” (humans).
LABELING THEORY SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM THEORY
Symbolic interactionism, a.k.a labeling theory, was developed by Howard S. Becker. In the
1960’s, Becker was studying drugs particularly marijuana and drug users. In his interviews
with drug users, he discovered that they viewed SOCIETY as the “outsider” or “outlier”.
“All social groups make rules and attempt at various times to enforce them. When a rule is
enforced, the person who is supposed to have broken it is seen as a special person.” -Becker
Becker’s theory of labeling is tied up with rule compliance. “Deviance is not a quality that lies
in behaviour itself, but in the interaction between the person who commits an act and those
who respond to it” Becker. He is saying that you are not a rule breaker, until someone labels
you as so.
Social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance and
by applying the rules to particular people and labeling them as outsiders. Deviance is not a
quality of the act a person commits but rather a consequence of the application by others of
rules and sanctions to an offender. The deviant is one to whom the label has been successfully
applied. Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label. In other words, it’s a construct. *
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Document Summary

Positivism is one set of perspectives to understanding deviance and criminal behaviour. All crimes are deviant, but not all deviance is crime. Deviant behaviour is more widespread than criminal behaviour; there are more examples of deviance. Deviance can also apply in positive or negative terms, whereas criminal behaviour is generally negative. We like to think that we are above animals greater than them. However, there is nothing that compares to the atrocities capable by the species of homo sapiens (humans). Symbolic interactionism, a. k. a labeling theory, was developed by howard s. becker. 1960"s, becker was studying drugs particularly marijuana and drug users. In his interviews with drug users, he discovered that they viewed society as the outsider or outlier . All social groups make rules and attempt at various times to enforce them. When a rule is enforced, the person who is supposed to have broken it is seen as a special person. -becker.

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