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Critically assess the contribution of labelling theory to an understanding of crime and deviance

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  • Essay length: 1911 words
  • Submitted: 13/01/2005
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AS and A Level Crime & Deviance

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Critically assess the contribution of labelling theory to an

understanding of crime and deviance

Labelling theory is one theory suggested by sociologists as the explanation for crime and deviance. However, several different theories were in existence before the labelling theory came about. First of all there were the biological theories; these stated that the cause of a person acting in a deviant manner was due to a physiological characteristic or quality which they possessed. For example having a mesomorphic body type or having XYY chromosomes were believed to be causes of someone becoming a criminal. Biological theories however are widely criticised as they do not take into account several patterns in the distribution within society of crime and deviance, which statistics show are apparent. For example there is an obvious pattern between social status and criminal convictions; there are many more convictions in the working class communities. However, physiological characteristics are randomly distributed meaning that as many upper class individuals should commit crimes as the lower classes, the biological theories give no explanation to why this is the case. Another point for criticism is the difference in amount of convictions of the old and young, when

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