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Labelling Theory for Understanding Youngsters Crime

Outline labelling theory and consider its usefulness in understanding youngsters offense and anti-social behavior in Britain today.

Labelling theory says that deviance and conformity results not so much from what folks do but from how others react to those actions, it highlights communal responses to crime and deviance Macionis and Plummer, (2005). Deviant behaviour is therefore socially designed. This essay will describe completely the labelling theory and comment on the importance of the theory to the deviant behavior of the young ones and the anti-social behaviour of the children in Britain today.

The labelling theory becomes dominant in the early 1960s and the later 1970s when it was used as a sociological theory of criminal offenses influential in challenging orthodox positivity criminology. The key visitors to this theory were Becker and Lement. The foundations of the view of deviance are thought to have been first set up by Lement, (1951) and were eventually produced by Becker, (1963). As a matter of fact the labelling theory has subsequently become a dominant paradigm in the reason of devience. The symbolic discussion point of view was extremely active in the early on foundations of the labelling theory. The labelling theory is constituted by the assumption that deviant behavior is to be seen not only as the violation of the norm but as any behavior which is efficiently described or labelled as deviant. Deviance is not the act itself however the response others share with that act this means deviance is in the eye of the beholder. Actually the labelling theory was built on Becker, (1963:9) declaration that "Social groupings create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitute deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labelling them as outsiders----deviance is not really a quality of the take action of a person commits, but instead a consequences of the application form by others of guidelines and sanctions to the 'offender' The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied.

Deviant behavior is behaviour that people so label. " Just how out is a refusal to dramatize the evil. The labelling theory connects to great sociological ideas of Dukheim the symbolic interactionism and the discord theory. The theory also attracts from the thought of Thomas (1928) that when people identify situations as real they become real in their results.

Lement, (1951-1972) distinguishes deviance into most important and supplementary deviance where he described most important deviance as those little reactions from others which have little influence on a person's do it yourself concept and extra deviance as when people thrust a deviant person out of these social circles which leads the individual to be embittered and seek the company of folks who condone his behaviour. Lement further argued that somewhat than viewing a offense as leading to control it can be more fruitful to see the process as you where control agencies structured and even made crime. Extra deviance causes what Goffman (1963) deviant career. This will consequently contributes to stigma which is a powerful negative cultural label that radically changes a person's self concept and social identification. A unlawful prosecution is one way that an specific is labelled in a negative rather than in a positive way. Stigmatising people often brings about retrospective labelling which is the interpretation of someone's history consistent with the present deviance Seheff; (1984). Retrospective labelling distorts someone's biography in a prejudicial way guided by stigma than any attempt to be fair.

No social category stands apart from others to be either unlawful or clear of criminality. However corresponding to various sociologists people who have less stake in society and their own future typically exhibit less resistance to some kinds of devience. Labelling theory asks what goes on to criminals once they have been labelled and suggests that criminal offense may be highlighted by unlawful sanctions thus mailing one to prison may help to criminalise a person further. Stigmatising young offenders could possibly lead them into a legal career. Howard S. Becker, (1963) one of the earlier interaction theorists said that social communities create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitute deviance and through the use of those guidelines to particular people and labelling them as outsiders. Furthermore the

labelling theoretical method of deviance specializes in the social a reaction to deviance dedicated by individuals as well as the connections processes leading up to the labelling.

The theory therefore shows that criminology has been given too much attention to scammers as types of people and insufficient attention to the collection of social control replies. That therefore means regulations, the authorities, the media and the general public publications helps to give offense its shape. That is reinforced by the discord theory which shows how deviance displays inequalities and electric power. This approach contains that the causes of criminal offenses may be linked to inequalities of category, competition and gender which who or what's labelled as deviant will depend on the relative electricity of types of people. Cicourel's research on Juvenile justice in California, (1972) remarked that police stereotypes bring about black, white school junior being labelled criminal. The issue theory web links deviance to ability by means of the norms and the laws of all societies which strengthen the hobbies of the rich and powerful.

The labelling theory links deviance never to action but to the result of others. The idea of stigma, extra deviance and deviant profession shows how people can combine the label of deviance into a long lasting self-concept. Political leaders recognises that labelling was a political act for this made them aware on which guidelines to enforce, what behaviour is to thought to be deviant and which people labelled as outsiders may necessitate political assistance Becker, (1963-7). Politics leaders continued to make a series of empirical studies concerning the roots of deviancy explanations through political activities in areas such as drugs legislation, temperance legislation, delinquency definitions, homosexuality, prostitution and pornography.

Becker, (1963) examines the possible results upon an individual after being publicly labelled as deviant. A label is not natural; it includes an evaluation of the person to whom it is applied. It will become a get good at label in the sense that it colours all the other statuses possessed by a person. If is labelled as a paedophile, unlawful or homosexual it is difficult to reject such product labels for those brands generally overrides their original position as parents, employee, neighbour and good friend. Others view that person and respond to him or her in conditions of the label and tend to assume that individual has the negative characteristics normally associated with such product labels. Since an individual's self concept is basically derived from the responses of others they'll tend to see themselves in terms of that label. This might produce a do it yourself satisfying prophecy whereby the deviant identification becomes the managing one. This links to the interactionist way which emphasizes the importance of the meanings the many stars bring to and develops within the interaction situation.

However the labelling theory has its weaknesses which includes Liazos, (1972) who mentioned that however the labelling theorists seeks to humanise the deviant person and show that he or she is no unique of other individuals except perhaps in conditions of opportunity. It however by the focus on the deviant and his identification problems and subculture the contrary effect might have been achieved. He further recommended that while deciding the more common everyday types of deviance such as homosexuality, prostitution and juvenile delinquency the labelling theorists have totally dismissed a more dangerous and malevolent types of deviance which he termed covert institutional violence. He pointed out that this kind of violence leads to specific things like poverty and exploitation for example the battle in Vietnam, unjust tax laws and regulations, racism and sexism. It is questionable whether labelling theorists should even try to discuss varieties of deviance like this just as as more commonplace specific crimes or if the two should be stored totally separate being so different in subject material.

Akers, (1994) also criticized the labelling theory by directing out that this fails to make clear why people break the law while the majority conform explaining that people go about minding their own business and then wham-bad society comes and halts them with a stigmatised label. The theory fails to describe why the moral entrepreneurs react in the way described but rather blames contemporary society and portrays criminals as innocent patients which is not necessarily the truth.

To counter-top for the negative effects of punitive measures to youth crime and anti-social behaviour the United kingdom government released the ASBO and ABC this means anti social behavior orders and acceptable behaviours respectively. ASBO and ABC are recent advancements in Britain that have been designed to eliminate anti-social behavior by the average person on whom they can be imposed. ASBO is a statutory creation and it holds legal force where as an ABC can be an informal method though not without legal value. Both types of interventions are targeted at stopping the challenge behaviour somewhat than punishing the offender which may lead a person into a deviant career. The ABC demonstrated most effective as a means of encouraging adults, children and parents for taking responsibility for unacceptable behaviour. These options are being used to increase the quality of life for local people by tackling behavior such as harassment, graffiti, unlawful destruction and verbal abuse without criminalising the offender.

The crime and disorder act (1998) provides the important elements of labour's new youngsters justice system which observed the establishment of the children justice and the restructuring of the non custodial fines available to the youth court. The government believed that protecting against offending helps bring about the welfare of the average person young offender and defends the public. The youngsters justice board oversees the junior offending teams that includes a number of jobs including assessing the chance and protective factors in a young person's life that relate to their offending behaviour to allow effective interventions to be implemented, providing support to young people who have been released from the custody in to the community and early on intervention and preventative work both in criminality and anti-social behavior.

To further decrease the ramifications of labelling the United kingdom government is tackling anti-social behaviour and its causes by tackling family problems, poor education attainment, unemployment, liquor and medication misuse. The best successful interventions to be applied where mentioned to be those that engage the average person in changing their own behavior. This is being done making certain an individual knows the impact of their behaviour to the community whilst offering the required support to conform.

Rather than labelling and criminalising an individual the British government came up with effective advice, councelling and support that enable people who behave anti-Socially to change their behavior. Perpetrators young and people have issues in their lives that want the support and help of professional, statutory or voluntary organisations. Issues like money management and personal debt, communication difficulties with the family, teenagers attempting within the educational or work because of offending behavior and patients of domestic violence can all reap the benefits of available services in Britain today.

This article therefore concludes that labelling theory is enormously influential in directing attention for the relative and relatively arbitrary characteristics of dominant definitions of crime and criminality in Britain. In addition, it critizes the unlawful justice and the agencies of sociable control for this reflects on the consequences of our cultural effect and advocates for changes in public plan on juvenile justice, restorative justice, de-institutionalisation and communitarian methods. The powerful insights of the labelling theory made the English authorities to rethink again on the difficult on crime stance hence the intro of new restorative measures which does not label or criminalise young offenders. The labelling theory is therefore quite useful in knowing that the go up in the yob culture, gang culture and hoody culture in Britain was due to criminalising young offenders rather than responding to issues leading the young into crime and anti-social behaviour.


Berker and Howard, S (1963) Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance, New York: free press

Goffman, E (1963) Stigma: Records on the management of spoiled personal information, Prentice-hall

Hall, S (1978) Policing the problems, The Macmillan press LTD

Haralambos, M and Holborn (1991) Sociology designs and perspectives, Collins education.

Macionis, J and Plummer, K (2005) Sociology a worldwide introduction, Pearson education limited.

Taylor et al, (1973) the new criminology for a communal theory of devience, Routledge

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