The Labelling theory addresses a larger definition of crime, referring not only to illegal conduct or actions but much rather to deviant behaviour in general. Deviance is seen as a quality attributed to a certain act by those who witness it directly or indirectly and deem it immoral and wrong. Behaviours acquire the label of being deviant by social interaction and maintain it by social learning. This new approach is in contradiction with the former views of crime as inherent to the action or behaviour and in some cases excusable by the circumstances such as anomie or social strain, which assume homogenous norms and equal responses or punishments to all those guilty.
However, in the new perspective, a deviant act becomes deviant only when it is labelled as such. This attracted criticism over the nature of harmful acts that are not witnessed and reacted to and whether or not the theory implies that they are moral as long as they go without social reaction. Becker tackles this criticism by arguing that the theory does not presume to be absolute and by underlining four main categories which include the Secret Deviant. Also, self-enforcement is not dismissed as a deviant might consider their own actions wrong and self –label and self-punish.
Questioning the foundation of laws gives a …show more content…
The criminal career is composed of re-offenses due to lack of social integration, exclusion from mainstream structures and in some cases renegation of the societal norms. The deviant is theorized to perceive no other choice but further deviance because the label attached to their discovery turns them into untrustworthy or even dangerous individuals. The social response only creates a backlash that manifests as acceptance of the label, retreatment from society or