Lecture 5+6 20140405
West side storyoffice krupke: labeling theory
Differentiation is based on race and class
Labeling theory addresses 3 main issues
YouTube: the wire and labeling theory
Other kids that are ostracized and experiencing as label of trouble makers that are different class –
continuous self profiling prophecy that is a masters discourse
Labeling theory argues eventually people develop the master status because they go through criminal
justice system and gain a master status to fulfill the fulfilling prophecy
We stopped as social construction of crime.
The Social Construction of Crime
• Labeling theorists urged criminologists to surrender the idea that behaviors are somehow inherently
criminal or deviant
What makes an act criminal is not the harm it incurs but rather whether this label is conferred on the act
by the state
• It is the nature of society that determines whether a crime has occurred
o Changes over time, across societies, etc.
Labeling theory’s critical questions
• What is defined as crime?
• Who is defined as criminal?
Addresses 3 main issues:
1. The definition of deviance and crime
2. Possible discrimination in the application of official labeling and sanctions
3. The effects of labeling on continued criminality
The Social Construction of Crime • The nature of state criminal intervention is not simply a matter of an objective response to illegal
behaviour but rather is shaped intimately by a range of extralegal contingencies.
• Influenced by individual characteristics such as race, class and gender.
• Rates of labeling also vary according to the resources available to and political demands
placed on police and other criminal justice organizations.
Labeling as a SelfFulfilling Prophecy
• The meaning of the label “criminal” in our society leads citizens to make assumptions about offenders
that are wrong or only partially accurate
• These assumptions are consequential because they shape how people react to offenders
• Criminal becomes the person’s master status or controlling public identification
• In the face of repeated designation as a criminal, the person internalized the public definition of
Labeling as Criminogenic: Creating Career Criminals
• Labeling and treating lawbreakers as criminals have the unanticipated consequence of creating the
very behaviour they were meant to prevent
Assessing Label Theory
• Critiqued statistics
• Questions relations of power
• Brought data to bear on two principal propositions
1. Extralegal factors, not behaviour alone, shapes who is labeled.
2. Labeling increased criminal involvement
• Positivist Criticism:
o Labeling theory’s major tenants wilted when subjected to empirical test
o The perspective’s popularity has less to do with its empirical adequacy and more to do with its
voicing a provocative message and that meshed with the social times
o Does not disc