Labelling, Institutionalisation and the Causes of Discrimination Using Functionalist Perspective

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Labelling is defining or describing a person in terms of his or her behaviour or a particular aspect of that individual. Labels can be affirming and motivating. However, labels can be negative too, creating prejudice and separation between individuals or groups. For Howard Becker, a 1960’s sociologist, the meaning and the impact for an individual or a group, of having a label applied, must be considered. People with mental challenges are more likely to be discriminated and labels tend to stick. Connor A, MacLennan E (2009), HNC in Social Care Student Book, Heinemann

Institutionalisation is used to refer to the process of committing a particular individual to an institution, such as a mental institution. To this extent, institutionalisation may carry negative connotations regarding the treatment of, and damage caused to, vulnerable individuals by the oppressive application of inflexible systems of social, medical, or legal controls by organisations. Individuals become dependent upon the routines of an institution, resulting in such characteristics as apathy and lack of initiative, privacy and choice.

Connor A, MacLennan E (2009), HNC in Social Care Student Book, Heinemann

THE CAUSES OF DISCRIMINATION USING FUNCTIONALIST PERSPECTIVE Discrimination is what happens when an individual or group are treated unfairly or differently from others as a result of prejudice. Functionalists believe that discrimination is the result of the need to sort people into higher and lower. Functionalists see inequalities among groups as necessary because they believe that societies function most efficiently when discrimination is based on merit, rather than external inequalities.
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