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How Far Has the Work of Labelling Theorists and Interactionists Helped Us to Understand Why Some People Become Criminal and Others Do Not?

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Introduction

How Far Has the Work of Labelling Theorists and Interactionists Helped Us to Understand Why Some People Become Criminal and Others Do Not? Most sociologists ask what the causes of crime are and try to solve crime by preventing these causes, however, labelling and interaction theorists ask why some behaviour is labelled deviant while other behaviour is acceptable. Their arguments have been discussed below. Becker was one labelling theorist who wanted to find how behaviour was labelled deviant and then become criminal. Everyone in society is potentially a criminal as all commit deviant acts. These deviant acts only become criminal when caught and given a punishment. Becker's study of Football Hooliganism shows how a group can be labelled and then creates more deviant acts. Fights at football matches are not a normal thing, they are usually isolated incidents. However, these events can be focused on and escalated to seem like a real problem by the media. The public then labels the people who go to watch football matches as Football Hooligans. The football fans gain a master status, i.e. ...read more.

Middle

Fans can also support their teams at home watching on television. Although, it could be counter-argued that people should not have a label placed on them without real cause. Dunning et al claimed that it was not the label that caused football hooliganism or any other kind of behaviour but masculinity. They claimed that the lower classes feel a need to prove them, and therefore fight in order to demonstrate their masculinity. This may explain persistent football hooligans, but it does not explain those who only get involved in it once or twice. Taylor found that the most common excuse was that they were "caught up in the moment" and that it was not their normal behaviour. Lemert defined two types of deviance, primary and secondary. Primary deviance is the initial act which is not yet labelled but within time becomes labelled. The secondary deviance is when an act is labelled deviant. For example, in a small community in America it was considered to be "abnormal" if a child spoke with a stutter. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, if a young black male is labelled as a violent, unruly person they will come to believe that they are and then act out their label. The label has been applied and society caused that person to become that label as they can no longer see past it. A criticism of Cooley is that the person who has been labelled is not always aware of it. Therefore if the person is not aware of the label placed upon them, they cannot internalise it and become that label. The person may still become that label by circumstance not attached to the label, but it still has not caused that person to be deviant. In conclusion, the labelling and interaction theories on crime can be applied to specific types of criminal and deviant acts within society such as when the person has recognised they have the label and react negatively to it. The theory does not consider those people who use their label in a positive way or do not realise a label has been placed. Labelling and interaction does occur though so it does explain some crime and deviance but other theories need to be considered to come up with a balanced idea of what causes or creates crime and deviance. ...read more.

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