Labeling theory investigates how the behaviour and self-identity of individuals may be affected, influenced, or determined by the terms which are used to classify them or fit them into defined sociological categories. Strongly associated with concepts of stereotyping and that of the self-fulfilling prophecy, labeling theory is also closely related to modes of social construction and symbolic interaction analysis. It posits that crime and deviance are not inherent aspects of some act or decision, and instead focuses on the consequences of derogatory or otherwise damaging labels as they are applied to minorities and deviant subcultural organizations and how these labels enforce or enable criminal activity. These studies of crime and labelling practices occur at the level of the individual (micro), the institution, and the state or national rule making body (macro).
Labeling theory was developed in the mid to late 1960s, and popularized by Howard Saul Becker among other sociologists. Labeling theory investigates the role of government agencies, state institutions, and social processes in the creation and realization of deviance and crime. It is often referred to under the umbrella of social reaction theories, due to the fact that labeling theory focuses on more informal aspects involved in the process of engagement in criminal behaviour as well as the responses of a labeled individual to the act of their labeling. Labeling theory argues that labels are imposed in part because of the status of those responsible for labeling practices in conjunction with those being labeled, and also that deviant labels create problems and stressors that the one being labeled is forced to adapt to and contend with, and that these labeling practices can under certain conditions lead to a greater extent of involvement in criminal activity and deviant practices.
Our experts at Homework Help UK offer valuable insights into the research and theoretical development of labeling theory within the field of criminology. They are familiar with the methodological and empirical process by which labeling theory operates, and the ways in which criminal response and labeling practices involve social interpellations which have both psychological and judicial consequences. Trust the experts at Homework Help UK – get a quote now!