Labled Theory of Deviance

Topics: Sociology, Criminology, Crime Pages: 2 (477 words) Published: November 8, 2010
Labeling theory of Deviance
The Labeling Theory arose from the study of deviance and also can be known as the social reaction theory. The Labeling theory of deviance has a lot to do with not the single acts of an individual but how others respond to those actions. It focuses on the linguistic tendency’s of majorities to negatively label smaller groups or people who are seen as deviant. Deviant behavior is categorized as any behavior that violates social norms; it differs between cultures and settings. With the decreases in deviant behavior there would be a decrease in criminal acts. Society today considers such activities to be deviant: stealing, lying, refusing to wash oneself, purchasing services of prostitutes, and being nude in public places. Not all acts of deviance are defined as criminal, breaking a written law. However with the ability to label deviance it is much easier to label what is crime.

Edwin Lemert introduced the terms primary deviance and secondary deviance. Primary deviance refers to an individual’s first act of deviant behavior and a secondary deviance refers to the habitual acts. The labeling theory provides an account of a person’s transition from primary to secondary by virtue of the labels that society assigns that behavior. During the primary deviance a person does not yet internalize a deviant identity for this act may have been unintended or forced. However the term secondary deviance is when a person’s self can be stigmatized by public labeling. Lemert states that the deviant person will begin to employ his role of deviant behavior as a means of “defense, attack or adjustment” to the prohibitions that behavior evokes.

A social stigma is labels that society gives you that can forever negatively change your life. The label is given when a person gains social disapproval of personal characteristics that are against cultural norms. When stigmatized many people develop a negative self image because now society views them just...
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