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Assess The Usefulness Of Labelling Theories In Understanding Crime and deviance

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Introduction

ASSESS THE USEFULNESS OF LABELLING THEORIES IN UNDERSTANDING CRIME AND DEVIANCE Labelling theory suggests that deviancy is a social process usually related to power differences but it doesn't explain the causes of crime. It does however explain why some people or actions are described as deviant, and can help in understanding crime and deviance. Becker suggests that there is really no such thing as a deviant act. An act only becomes deviant when others perceive it as such. The application of a label to someone has significant consequences for how that person is treated by others and perceives him or herself. Lemert drew a distinction between primary and secondary deviance through a study of stuttering amongst a Native American nation. ...read more.

Middle

Labelling theorist explain that some people may have the power to reject a negative label, while others are unable to gain enough resources to deny the negative label and must accept it, causing harsh consequences in later life as they may live up to their label and be treated according to their label. Becker explains that once an individual or group is labelled in a certain way others only see them in terms of that label, he calls this master status, it also causes the individual or group to see themselves in terms of the label. This may produce a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the label makes itself become true. There are many stages in this process, which can help in understanding crime and deviance. ...read more.

Conclusion

Labelling theory also fails to explain why individuals commit deviant acts in the first place, and it assumes that once a person has been labelled their deviance will increase. Individuals might simply choose to be deviant even if they haven't been labelled. It also fails to explain why some people are labelled rather than others and why some activities are against the law and others are not. However, labelling theorists main argument is that deviance and crime are the result of groups imposing their definitions of crime and deviance on others. The process whereby people manage to impose their view in others is through labelling. Overall labelling theory is very useful in understanding crime and deviance. It helps us see why certain acts can become known as deviant and how crime can happen from deviant behaviour. ...read more.

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