Assess the View That Crime and Deviance Are the Product of Labelling Processes.

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the view that crime and deviance are the product of labelling processes.

Some sociologists believe that the cause of crime and deviance is labelling which is when a label is attached to a person or group of people due to their appearance, sex, ethnicity etc. Labelling theory argues that once this label has been attached it can create a self fulfilling prophecy, which is when the person begins to act according to the label and hence it comes true simply through being made. Labelling is similar to stereotyping but this is when a person assigns certain characteristics to a labelled group. An example to support this would be 9/11. Since this disaster people label Muslims as being terrorists simply because a small minority of Muslims were involved.

Item A shows how ASBO’s which were introduced to try and reduce criminal behaviour in young people, have resulted in labelling as ‘the orders were disproportionately used against ethnic minorities: blacks and Asians were about two and a half times more likely than whites to be given an ASBO’. This shows how the Police were more likely to give ASBO’s to ethnic minorities than white youths which is an example of labelling.

Interactionists who believe that labelling causes crime and deviance differ from other theorists as they believe that actually the majority of people have broken the law at some point, and also that official statistics are nothing more than social constructs. Their main focus is on how some groups, such as the working class and ethnic minorities, get labelled as criminal by the more powerful people in society.

Becker looks at labelling theory and he argues that actually deviance is ‘in the eye of the beholder’, which means that something only becomes deviant once it has been labelled as such. Therefore deviance only exists because the people with power in society have decided that something is deviant. He also believes that whether or not the...
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