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Labelling theory.docx

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Social Science
SOSC 2650
Anita Lam

November 28, 2013 Labeling Theory Lecture Overview 1) Brief recap 2) Labeling theory’s starting premises: social construction and symbolic interactionism 3) Howard Becker: Outsiders 4) Testing labeling theory 5) Policy Implications 1) Recap • Social process theories (social and psychological process) - Social learning: differentialAssociation theory, neutralization theory (what techniques you learn that helps you neutralize your moral values) - Socialization and creating social bonds: social control theory (process of creating social bonds; things that will tie you as an individual to society; assumes people who have attachments or involvements can hold conventional moral policing) - Labeling theory: social process of labeling *are not functionalist because they do not assume that societal idea is not given; any social and moral order is a given achievement*  Societal reaction to crime *Durkheim; whether an act was criminal or not*  Functionalists assume societal consensus us a given and naturally exits *we need crime and it is normal and a necessary feature; everyone agrees on what makes a collective conscious*  Conflict theorists assume that there are social, economic and political inequalities in society. Powerful social groups create and maintain a vision of moral and social order, which is imposed on less powerful social groups • Context of labeling theory: late 1960’s US - State experienced crisis of legitimacy - Government would help eliminate poverty; but the problem was he did not provide people with equal opportunities - Civil rights movements were policed quite brutally by government response. 2) Starting premises of labeling theory • Not cause of crime, but effects of deviant label *why does someone commit crime?**an explanation of what happens to people after they have been labeled a criminal; the effects of labels on a persons’self-image and their past* • It is a theory of deviance as imposed to crime; *all criminal acts are deviance but not all deviant acts are criminal* • Crime(acts that are unlawful) vs. deviance (acts that diverged from the social norms of society) • Recall: positivistic theories are scientific theories that assume a singular reality naturally exists *rejected the spiritualistic ideas of crime in favor of scientific investigation and imperial testing theories* • The reality is a given; assumption that crime naturally exits and criminals exist; this is in the general theory of crime - SomeActs and individuals are inherently criminal Social construction • There are not acts or people that are criminal; except acts and people are criminals because they have been labeled as such; crimes and criminals are socially constructed phenomena; they don’t exist but need to be made. • Crimes and criminals are socially constructed phenomena. They do not simply exist. They are made. • Different people = different realities • Reality is not a natural given. It needs to be constructed - E.g. police coding practices  Over the last 10 years, the san Francisco police department coded allAsians who were arrested as Chinese  Coding similarly to the labeling process; given a force that has implications down the road; has consequences and justify targeting on Chinese persons’, even though they do not follow this category  Coding works because the police perceive you as Chinese orAsian • There is no single, objective reality. Reality is a matter of perspective *when we’re talking about social constructions, we are talking about it changing over time* • What is criminal changes as the social context changes E.G. Crack Cocaine • 1980’s US: “crack epidemic and crack “babies” • Mother could pass on the crack that she uses to her children; this is her deviant behavior passed on to her children. • The only the people are deviant because they have been constructed by the media. • Represented by the media • Crack cocaine was constructed as highly dangerous & highly addicted drug* • American Federal Sentencing Guidelines (1986) • Crack would induce people to violence behavior - Crack cocaine: powder cocaine = 100:1 ratio *will determine the sentence that you will receive if you were convicted of the sell or possession of cocaine; you only need 1gram of crack cocaine to trigger the 5 year mandatory sentencing; in contrast the 5 year sentence would be 100 grams of powder cocaine* - 5 year mandatory sentence - What is the problem? Both crack cocaine and powder cocaine trigger the same side effect and are similar; the idea of the crack baby is disproportionate because crack addicted mothers don’t have crack born babies and they don’t end up having withdrawal symptoms Symbolic Interactionism • Holds that people communicate through symbols (e.g. gestures, signs, words, or images that represent something else) • People interpret symbolic gestures from other people and incorporate them into their own self-image *symbolic interactions = people communicate through symbols that stem for something else and people will interpret these symbolic interactions; this has a consequences because we interpret these gestures in our own self-image* • Reality is dependent on a person’s subjective interpretation of symbolic interactions. Their interpretation shapes future behavior. • Symbolic labels - Master status: deviant label comes to redefine the whole person.A social status that comes to primarily identify an individual and supersedes all other status positions • Labeling can lead to and help sustain chronic offending • When you see someone who is disabled you think of them as dangerous and crazy; and this is similar to a criminal • Start acting towards you based on your label; because of this situation; label theorist argue that it makes it harder for a criminal to conform and might push that person into a criminal career • Can occur in different scenarios 1) criminal records= criminal label; because the person can’t find legitimate employment he/she might find illegitimate means to make money = puts us on a path of strain theory,.2 ) this criminal behavior is damaging to our relationships; being excluded and you are left to bond with anti-social deviant behaviors = differential association theory. 3) labeling theory; after being labeled as criminal the offender might no longer see themselves as law-abiding people but rather criminals because they start internalizing the public’s perceptions Self-Concept • Looking-glass self: we see ourselves through the eyes of other people and incorporate their views into our self-concept *seeing ourselves through the eyes of other people is crucial for us; in those interactions those other people act like a mirror and they reflect back onto us a sense of who we are* 3) Howard Becker: Outsiders • The outsider is someone who deviates from group rules *deviance is not a disease or pathological behavior; - This person is not pathological • different from Lombroso; it is socially constructed and does not exist in someone; what it is according to beccer is the consequences of rules and sanctions to an individual’s by owners* • Social constru
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