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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 2700
Professor
C Yule
Semester
Winter

Description
March 7 , 2013 Social Reaction (Labelling) Theories Cont’d Seeds of Labelling Theory -interactions between individuals -Charles Horton Cooley -the “looking glass self” -our understanding of ourselves is primarily a reflection of our perception of how others react to us -how we imagine others view us -our self-concept, identity, cognitive processes exist only in the context of the society in which we live, how we think, feel, react, shapes by the social interaction with other people, begins from the moment we are born, there is nothing inborn, but the interactions and perceptions of ourselves comes from the exchange of meaning, verbal and nonverbal -implication—can have a self-fulfilling prophecy -social reactions to particular behaviours serve to label us as delinquent or not, and stigmatize us and can be the cause for further deviance -Edwin Lemert -primary deviation -very occasional or situational behaviour -could be excused or rationalized by the person who’s engaging in it or by the social audience -person seen as generally good, and the deviance is seen as an aberration of their typical behaviour -ex. stealing a textbook, doesn’t define their life, didn’t change their life course, initial act of deviation that doesn’t define the person in their own eyes or the eyes of others -secondary deviation -when deviance becomes regular -rarely initiated by a single act -emerges from a dynamic process (the deviance the person engages in and the societal response) -individual in conjunction with the societal reaction (the 2 have to go together) -if both of these are meshed, it normally results in labelling, and becomes the primary identifier for the person -deviant act has to come to the attention of others, someone needs to recognize the behaviour, and react negatively to it -the individual then reorganizes their behaviour and person around the deviant act -start to use behaviour as a means of defence or attack to the labels they perceive as being imposed on them -deviant amplification effect—where people who feel isolated, their perception of how people are reacting to them makes them feel isolated from mainstream society, locking down their criminal role, entrenches people in the deviant role, escalation, apprehension, more labels, etc. -expresses the core of labelling theory -process in which someone’s identity is transformed -efforts to control offenders actually make things worse (punishment, or treatment), help to lock them in the deviant role Howard S. Becker “Outsiders” -prefers the name interactionist theory -because it is the interaction of people engaged in crime and those who respond to it -why do we focus on some actions, some groups of people, and not others? -main contribution was to point out that research on understanding crime up to this point was problematic, because the samples of criminals that were being used included a heterogeneous group -don’t focus on the ACT, focus on the act of identifying or labelling the crime (reaction) -“deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label” -nothing inherent in the act -we define what is deviant -TYPOLOGY Conforming Behaviour Norm-Violating Behaviour Perceived as deviant FALSELY ACCUSED PURE-DEVIANT (engage (perhaps because of in crime, and get caught gender, age, race, etc. and punished) misjudged) Not perceived as deviant CONFORMIST (law- SECRET DEVIANT abiding citizens) (committed crime but gone undetected) -conformist and pure-deviant similar because they are accurately perceived by society by the behaviour they engage in -falsely accused and secret deviants are similar to the extent that they are misjudged by society -for the secret deviant, it is a large group of people, more often crimes such as drunk driving, not murder -falsely accused and pure deviant are the ones that show up in police data -how can you build a theory of crime or offending when you have totally different groups? -Becker says what makes these categories similar is that they’ve been labelled deviant, so it is important to look at the effect of this criminal label, whether or not the label is true -master status—overrides all the other statuses, the status that everyone identifies you as (the criminal label overrides other) -people are automatically assumed that there are negative traits associated with this label -criminal—bad parent, lazy, poor work ethic, etc. Labelling Theory Primary deviance Reaction—including labelling STIGMA Change in self-concept to negative image Secondary rule violations Career/secondary/role deviance -process affected by who does the labelling, and how the person reacts to it -not saying labelling is automatic -individual engages in the process -individual reaction shapes how or if someone moves from primary to secondary deviation -a person’s social and demographic features may be mor
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