Examine the relationship between deviance and labelling.
The relationship between deviance and labelling is partly based on the view of the stereotypical criminal. This stereotype suggests a white, working class, male as a deviant, making them a ‘suspect’ before they’ve even committed a deviant act. However, whether an act is labelled as deviant depends on who commits the act, where and when it’s committed, and how it is interpreted – and the label the individual is given as a result. Functionalists label the typical criminal as a young, working class male. They then produce theories based on this label to explain this crime, and therefore end up skewed or distorted stats – suggesting that their stereotype of the typical criminal does in fact commit the most crime, when this is perhaps not the reality. Functionalist Merton argues that problem of deviance stems from the structure of society. He claims different classes within society have unequal access to legitimate pathways. For example, the working class have less access to the best education, and therefore develop a sense of anomie - this label leads the working class to feel pressured into turning to illegitimate pathways, highlighting the self fulfilling prophesy. Building on Merton’s theory is Cohen. He believes everybody wants status; a feeling of self-worth in the eyes of others. In terms of delinquency and labelling, he argues working class, in particular boys, are inadequately socialised because of deficiencies in working class culture, therefore labelling them as failures. Because of this frustration at their low status in the eyes of, for example, their teachers, they then go on to reject education, and instead misbehave. This status frustration at being negatively labelled leads them to a delinquent subculture; in their desire to gain status, they turn to deviancy, a positive subculture in the eyes of their peers, where they will then gain status from them instead. As well as gaining this status...
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