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Lecture 9

Lecture 9 - Deviance.docx

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Western University
Sociology 2234E
Lesley Harman

Labeling theory and deviance History  Origins in Symbolic interactionism  Arguably the biggest impact SI has had on sociology is deviance Cooley: Looking glass self 1) People imagine how they are viewed by other people 2) How people believe others will judge them 3) We develop feelings of shame or pride. - All of these are a guide to inner behavior and development of the self. - Individuals use other peoples actions towards them as the mirror in which they see themselves - If you have a negative looking glass you are more likely to engage in deviant behavior according to Cooley. W.I. Thomas: The Self fulfilling prophecy - people often become their label - If they think they are dumb they probably will not study and therefore they will do poorly. Labeling theory focuses on those who make the labels not just those who are labeled Labeling has to do with societal reactions to particular behaviors and the subsequent reaction of the labeled person to the label Labeling is a process involving interpretation, meaning, and the attribution of deviance. Interpretation is how a behavior is viewed, which depends on the standpoint and the characteristics of those involved. Meaning is important in SI, Meaning we put on people, acts and events. Attribution categorizes people. We attribute things to people based upon their label. What is deviant depends on time, place, and culture. Deviance is not inherent according to labeling theory. Labels stick especially if an agent of social control is the one who provides the label. (like a doctor or a police officer) Tannenbaum: The Dramatization of Evil - A community cannot deal with people it cannot define - Labeling creates “kinds of people” which we then expect to behave in the manner imputed to them Howard Becker “Social Groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction constitutes deviance. Deviance is not a quality of the act but a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an offender” Deviance
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