February 11, 2014
Chapter 5: Labelling Perspectives
-Have their roots in Symbolic Interactionism
-how we take things to mean when interacting with other people and how those
meanings influence what we say and do next
-it’s all about perception!!
-Whereas positivism emphasizes the objective nature of crime, interactionism views
crime as a social process, an outcome of human interaction.
-crime is a social process; crime is a consequence of social interaction.
-we create reality including the reality of crime
-challenged the idea that the rules that govern our society are clear and objective
and are supported by the greater majority through consensus.
-Developed in the 1960’s during a time of unrest and demand for change
-different movements that pushed for change
-feminist movement, human rights movement, anti-war movement etc.
-challenged the view that there was one voice and instead pointed out that there
was a pluarality of voices and that some of them were being pushed to the margins
-THE MAIN CONCEPT OF THIS THEORY IS POWER!!
-focus is on the relationship between the offender and those with the power to
-maintain that a consequence of the labelling process is stigmatization, which has
significant consequences for how offenders are seen by others and how they see themselves
which, in turn, influences their future behaviours (deviance amplification)
-when a person becomes labelled as deviant, they will start to believe that they
are innately deviant and will start to behave in ways they may not have acted had they not been
-self-fulfilling prophecy: if you call someone something long enough, they
will become that thing
- argue for minimal intervention and/or diversion from the formal justice system to reduce
the impact of stigmatization -mechanisms in place that try to move people away from the formal justice
system i.e. in dealing with young people; police have options of warnings, cautions and
referrals. Warning is often verbal and will let the youth go, cautions are often slightly more
formal and will be in the form of a letter handed to them in the presence of a guardian and
referrals point youth into the direction of an agency that could help with their problems but again
are not part of the formal justice system.
-YRAP – youth restorative action project – uses young people to work with young
people to move them back to conformist behaviour.
- John Schools – primarily for men, men convicted of sexual- related crimes are
sent to schools and educated about the effects of the sex trade on the community, the sex-
workers, the families etc.
-Public Shaming – people who have done certain misdeeds should have both
their names as well as their misdeeds made very public to deter
Howard Becker (Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance, 1963)
-“Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label”; “The deviant Is one to whom that
label has been successfully applied”
-Maintains that once a person is labelled deviant it becomes that person’s MASTER
STATUS, a characteristic by which others identify him or her
-once a deviant label becomes a master status, legitimate opportunities become
blocked, leaving deviance as the only option.
-introduced the concept of the deviant career to illustrate how deviance emerges,
progresses, and changes over time much like the concept of a “career”
-“Career Contingencies” are the various turning points that influence the
directions people take through these careers
-Becker developed Typologies:
-The Pure deviant – people who have been legitimately labelled by society