SOC 2760 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Symbolic Interactionism, Labeling Theory

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13 Feb 2017

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January 24, 2017
Interpretivist approaches
- can be summed up in that deviance is in the eye of the beholder
- what makes it deviant is the meaning we bring to it
Labelling theory origins
- origins: symbolic interactionism (Mead and Blumer)
- born into the social system
- norms and values that make up social system pre-exist you
- learn to interact via symbolic communication (esp. lang)
- meaning and sense of “self” are a product of symbolic
communication/ exchange
where you fit in the social system is where you start to develop
sense of self is dependant on types of interactions you have
with the people around you
- reality becomes meaningful through symbolic communication
e.g. raising a chid, reading a book
- meaning can change through symbolic communication
- sense of self is defined through symbolic communication
ex. Student/ professor interaction
- meaning and sense of self are eventually taken for granted
shared understanding creates a sense of flow
labelling theory
- meaning and self are a product of social interaction
- nothing is inherently deviant
- deviant is anything labelled as such via symbolic communication
- what happens when people are labelled deviant?
- You have to ask what are the effects
- Label worked its way into their sense of self
Labelling theory: primary and secondary deviance
- Lemert’s social pathology
- How reactions/labels lead to a “reorganization” of self
- Primary deviance
Someone will engage in conduct that violates social norms,
however it is not that serious, it is something small. Something
that happens quite often in life
Act might by recognized and labelled as deviant but is seen
as isolated
Deviant act doesn’t define the persons “self”
Label is not internalized: not part of one’s sense of self
- Secondary deviance
Violation of norms is persistent and more serious
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