The Labeling Theory of Deviance
The labeling theory arose from the study of deviance. Deviance focuses on the tendency of a group to label one as violating the cultural norms of society. No action is deviant unless specified by society. (Labeling Theory in Deviance Research) Deviance is labeled by someone or a group that is in position of power. These labels that are put on people can be positive or negative. The labels that people are given can effect their own perceptions of themselves and also others. These labels can either push people into deviance or can push them into conformity. (Labeling Theory in Deviance Research) Most types of deviance are in the negative form and are violent or criminal related. Strain theory plays a major role in why people become deviant. The theory explain that the outcome of social strains lead to deviance. This also has to do with how the society is structured. An act that someone performs could be considered deviant in one society based on their norms and be considered normal in another society. For some people deviance is a way for them to manage the strain. (Sociology Index: Labeling Theory)
There is a big difference between primary and secondary deviance. Primary deviance relates to ones first act of deviant behavior. Primary deviance does not result in a person receiving a deviant identity. Secondary deviance is any action that takes place after the primary deviance as a reaction to the person as a deviant. (Sociology Index: Labeling Theory) Edwin Lemert developed the idea of primary and secondary deviance as a way to explain the theory of labeling. Primary deviance is any act by a person that is considered deviant. When the person commits a crime he or she will be socially penalized. By being punished, the person does not necessarily stop committing crimes. He or she may commit the same primary deviance again; however this brings even harsher reactions from the society. Eventually the...
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