Focusing on interactionist approaches such as Becker (1963); labelling theory suggests that deviancy is a social process usually related to power differences but it doesn't explain the causes of crime. It does however explain why some people or actions are described as deviant, and can help in understanding crime and deviance. Becker argues deviance is a behaviour which has been labelled deviant by the reaction of others. This suggests that there is really no such thing as a deviant act. An act only becomes deviant when others perceive it as such. The application of a label to someone has significant consequences for how that person is treated by others and perceives him or herself.
Studies such that by Jock and Young (1971); exemplify Becker’s claim that there is no such thing as deviant behaviour. Interpretivist sociologists (interactionist) argue that we form our self-identity by interpreting how others respond to us and internalising the reaction. A label can have positive and negative effects on an individual and it helps define them in the ‘eyes’ of others. Becker calls this the ‘self-concept’. Interactionist theory suggests that being labelled as deviant can actually increase deviant behaviour. For example if a person is in trouble with the police then they are more likely to resort to criminal activity or criminal behaviour. Jock Young (1971) used his study of drug users in Notting hill to demonstrate the process of becoming deviant. The studies showed 4 different stages. Firstly, the marijuana users developed a deviant self-concept because their drug of choice was illegal; then the deviant element became their main identity in society. They were considers ‘hippies’ first and foremost ; then the negative response of those around them and the police made the drug taking a significant part of their live and then their