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Labeling Theory

By | March 2005
Page 1 of 2
The Labeling Theory is the view that labels people are given affect their own and others' perception of them, thus channeling their behavior either into deviance or into conformity. Labels can be positive and/or negative, but I'll focus on the negative aspects of labeling in high school. Everybody has a label in high school whether it is the "slut", "pothead", "freak" or the "jock"; it is one of the most apparent time periods in which individuals get labeled. Students have the mentality that whatever label is placed on them is going to be stuck with them forever, which then leads into a self-fulfilling prophecy. This, I feel, is a fear of being a "loser" that has been instilled throughout years by the principals, teachers, etc. An example of this is the pressure students are given to get a good grade. In order to get into an honors class they need to pass a certain test, should they not get into honors class the following year, then all throughout the rest of their remaining school life, they'll never be able to be in honors class. They'll then no longer be seen as the "smart" students they were "before"(even though they still are), they'll now be labeled as "dumb" and eventually start to believe, and become their label. Another example of this is being labeled a "slut". When a girl has been labeled a slut, early or in the middle of her school life, the label sticks with her all throughout her remaining school years. At first, she could reject this label, and try to "change", so people can see her differently, although some people may change their mind, the majority still see her as a "slut". She'll eventually accept it or have the mentality of "they see me as this, why not become this", then she'll have fulfilled the prophecy. This label might stay with her past high school, but I think that depends on the way she presents herself to different groups of people, if seen or labeled differently by another group she would probably conform to this as...

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