To What Extent Does Labelling Theory Offer a Useful Contribution to the Study of Crime and Deviance?

Topics: Crime, Sociology, Criminology Pages: 3 (1075 words) Published: January 10, 2009
To what extent does labelling theory offer a useful contribution to the study of crime and deviance? In this essay I’m going to investigate the Theory of Labelling also known as the Social Reaction Theory. Hopefully my essay will fulfil the criteria of the above title, an allow me to answer the question accurately and concisely. Why does crime exist? What drives individuals with in a populous to commit crime? Can crime ever be controlled or eradicated? By focusing on the Labelling Theory a branch of criminological study, it will enable me to partially answer such questions as posed above. I will now introduce various sociologists and philanthropists, whose studies within the field of labelling are held in the high regard as they not only define labelling but also increase the credence of the theory an help it evolve as a sociological concept. Edwin Lemert is regarded by many in the field of sociology as being the founder of the labelling theory. Lemert theorised the process through which a person may well become classed as a social deviant. The process consists of two stages; primary deviance and secondary deviance. Primary deviance is where the initial criminal act takes place and the perpetrator rejects any label which may be placed upon them. Secondary deviance occurs when the individual is subjected to a degradation ceremony (Garfinkel, 1956). In this ceremony the label of criminal is officially attached. The degradation ceremony usually takes place in court room with the judge passing sentence. However Harold Garfinkel also highlighted that “Public denunciations undertaken in other social settings may be just as effective”, because the stigma connected to such a label can influence the way in which family and friends react to you. After now establishing the concept of labelling theory, I will move on to analyse the theory and look at the strengths and weaknesses. This will able me to conclude my essay and fulfil the needs of the essay...
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