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The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Labelling Theory

Labelling theory and its theorists focus on the groupings and/or those who were considered to be legal and labelled thus by society. Labelling theorists examined the various interactions between your 'legal' groups and people and the conformist population. Labeling theory was very popular in the 1960s and early 1970s, but then fell into decline-partly as a result of the merged results of empirical research. This article will go on showing the roots of labelling theory, the idea itself and can show its strengths and weaknesses using various case-studies and good examples.

Tannenbaum (1938) is widely regarded as the first labelling theorist. His main concept was the 'dramatization of evil'. He stated that if one is described as being a unlawful then he automatically becomes one. Erwin Lamert (1951) founded the "societal Reaction" theory. This theory is extensively acknowledged to be the forerunner of present labelling theory. His theory quite simply states that a person experiences sociable deviance in two stages. The first period is known as the principal deviance phase. The second is known as the Secondary deviance phase. Regarding to Lemert, the principal deviance phase commences with a criminal act. He or she is then labelled unlawful but has yet to accept the label. The primary point of view is whether he or she has accepted the criminal label. If the individual views themselves as a offender then the supplementary deviant phase has begun. The object of whether a person views himself or herself as a offender is exactly what differentiates between the primary and extra deviant phases. Lemert states that we now have exceptions and people continue to stay in the primary phase, a good example would be a person who rationalizes that the so called 'criminal' take action is legal as it is necessary to allow them to survive and earn money (an exotic dancer would be a good example). The extra deviance period usually begins whenever a person has accepted the 'unlawful' label. They then accept themselves as being criminal as put it to use to counter (either by moving with similar peer communities or by other means) society's reaction to the initial function.

Howard Becker (1963) is kept to be the architect of the modern labelling theory. He is also accountable for coining the term 'moral entrepreneur' which is a term used to describe law making officials who get certain 'criminal behaviour' illegitimate. Becker proposed that criminal behaviour is active in character and changes throughout time. He therefore recommended that the genuine function is impertinent to the theory. What counts was the type of people going through the criminal justice system. Therefore Becker says that personal motives and the influence by contemporary society has nothing in connection with criminal behaviour. This is the most debated area of the labelling theory brought about by him. Becker will pay particular focus on how people and contemporary society react and operate with other people who contain the 'legal' label. He mentions that once a person has the label of 'unlawful' associated with him or her; it becomes jammed with them and works as a constant label. This effect is so deep that Becker areas that folks with this label start to be associated with the word criminal. Almost all their other organizations and brands such as that of parent or guardian, employee, etc take a returning seats. It becomes so extreme which it becomes their one and only status.

Foster et al, 1972 say that in certain unique situations, the label of 'criminal' may drive a person to integrate back to society and try to try and show them that the legal act she or he committed was a mistake and can not happen again (cited in Labelling theory). Although in most cases supplementary deviance will be completed in which the person allows the label of unlawful and starts to associate with similarly top quality people, losing connection with friends who comply with societies guidelines (Becker, 1963 cited in Labelling Theory). They have occurred only once both the population and individual consider her or him to be always a unlawful or a deviant.

Labelling theory however has many inherent drawbacks. Firstly, relating to Wellford (1975) the idea state governments that no functions are inherently criminal, and state governments that acts are only criminal when contemporary society considers those to be so. A couple of clearly some operates considered wrong in virtually all the societies and nations on the globe, murder, arson are a few such samples (cited in labelling theory). Subsequently is the procedure of self-labelling. Hagen (1973) results in the concept of self-labelling, where he claims the exemplory case of a murderer that has averted all suspicion (the action is not unlawful if no person is around to witness it or label him). He goes on to state that the murderer may have a conscience that will cause him to label himself or herself as a murderer. This goes against the labelling theory, which says that labelling must come from a third party. Thirdly, labelling theory is supposed to hide all unlawful activity and impacts everyone irrespective of their race, social class, making love and get older (Becker, 1963). Other criminologists have been doubtful of the part of the theory and keep that a person's race, interpersonal class and so on do have an effect. They discuss that the above mentioned factors can either boost or mitigate the effects of labelling theory. You can find however no scientific study on the effects of the above mentioned factors. Marshall and Purdy (1972) explained that the studies conducted mirrored actual behavioural differences that were reacted to differently by different people. Fourthly, it issues on who the audience is made up of, as the amount of denouncement a person feels depends upon the audience's a reaction to the act. As the labelling theory states, the first is the audience learning about the act that is known as criminal and not the act itself. As it has already been discussed, if the audience doesn't know about it then it isn't a offense. Different audiences may have different reactions to a criminal offenses and thus the abuse and the labelling will change even although same crime is being committed. The very last drawback of the labelling theory is that the personality of the individual matters. This may cause problems. The amount of stigmatization an individual gets varies on whether or not he cares about his label. Studies have come across certain individuals which have personality traits which makes them resistant to the labels conferred in it by society. The largest drawback you can say that influences labelling theory is the fact it hasn't yet been 'empirically validated'. Some studies discovered that being officially tagged a unlawful (e. g. imprisoned or convicted) increased succeeding criminal offenses, while other studies didn't. Although there are many reports that validate it, there are none of them that may offer significant data in its support. Labelling also consists of both a wrong or 'deviant' function and a 'deviant' person.

There are however several things that are incorrect with the downsides. The first one mentions that murder, arson and so forth are all criminal in most of the nations and societies. That's not a drawback but merely a statement of facts. It basically states what contemporary society currently thinks. In the foreseeable future the mentality of modern culture may change and serves that were recently considered to be legal may be legalised. Background shows that world has and will change to simply accept criminal behaviour or even to make legal behaviour illegal. An example would be that of homosexuality. In the first times, it was illegitimate. Now it is legal. The smoking of marijuana is another example, although it is against the law in most of the societies and nations it is now little by little being tolerated in a few and even being legalised in others. Among the other disadvantages also mentions the facet of self-labelling. But as mentioned before, the individual or group may seek to rationalize their behavior, thus avoiding the prospect of self applied labelling. A good example would be a person stealing to satisfy his hunger. He'd not label himself as a criminal as it was a required for him to do so. Thus the majority of the disadvantages can be explained.

Lemert (1967) brought out the bond between social effect and deviance through his studies and research of lots of Indian tribes in Uk Columbia. He pointed out that in some tribes, stuttering took place among their customers and their dialect brought up stuttering. Other tribes however acquired no reference to stuttering in their terminology and possessed no members with their tribes stuttering. Lemert cannot establish a clear reason as to why that was so. Then continued to realize that tribe that experienced stuttering, placed a very high so this means and emphasis on storytelling and oratory skills. Children of those tribes that positioned a very high emphasis on storytelling were often brought up in a culture that located a high value on not stuttering and having good oratory skills. The ones that were not able to conform to the rest of the tribe i. e. had bad storytelling and oratory skills were mocked. Lemert figured the pressure placed on the associates of the tribe to acquire good skills and the next mockery and social exclusion if indeed they didn't posses the oratory skills led to the development of stuttering. He said that in tribes where good oratory skills weren't expected, there is no negative effect and hence there was no deviance of the above mentioned type. He thus said that such kind of labelling leads to more deviant behavior.

Thomas Scheff (1966) shared Being Mentally Ill, was the first instance of labelling theory being applied to the term of 'Mentally Ill'. Scheff said that mental sick was the product of societal impact, going against the normal perceptions of the time. When society sees some act 'criminal' or deviant, they usually place the term of 'Mental Condition' on those who show that behavior so that contemporary society can understand the reason for the behavior and come to conditions with it. Matching to him, society then places certain behavioural goals on the individual and the individual subconsciously changes his behavior to suit the anticipations of world. He said that we now have no different kinds of the psychologically ill with just one type who conform to what modern culture has labelled them to be. Walter Grove on the other hand was vehemently against the theory proposed by Thomas Scheff. Grove argued the contrary point. He said that labelling theory and the mentally ill have no influence on one another. He said that folks are reported to be mentally unwell, when they screen behaviour that makes these to be so. Grove said that world has no influence whatsoever on mental health issues. He said that due to their illness, they react differently almost all of enough time and are hence cared for as such. There were studies to show how after being identified as having a mental disease labelling has taken an impact, such as not on offer houses and jobs, but you can find very little showing that labelling was the cause of mental illness in the first place. Thus we can say that labelling does have a profound effect but has yet to be shown that it was labelling that induced the illness to begin with.

Labelling can have different aspects as well. A good example would be drugs. Marijuana for example is tolerated in Amsterdam and is also legal in other parts of the world (Mexico allows four grams for personal use). In those societies, smooth drugs and their users are accepted and are not labelled as deviant or criminal. In these societies we see limited medicine use and little if any overdoses and or substance abuse. In other societies however, delicate drugs are unlawful and folks who use them are labelled as deviant. It really is in these societies that the policing organisations have trouble handling the abuse of drugs. This is because of the fact that folks with low self-confidence or a different/weakened personality trait takes these drugs showing they can 'deal with' it and want to rebel against world. Becker (1953) published in his publication, the Marijuana customer, that the medicine does not produce any addiction and this it does not have any withdraw sickness or any sort of substance that makes the user crave for the medication. The most frequent use would be recreational. He questioned fifty of those users and found that they didn't have any pre-dispositional behaviour towards it. They would be able to smoke it at onetime with others, they won't have the ability to. Thus the grade of deviance will not have a home in the behaviour itself, but is rather the outcome of responses compared to that behavior by various communal audiences (Tierney). The daily mail ran an article which stated that a lot of people were more likely to smoke if they found 'Smoking Kills' on it. This was because of the fact the these people had low self esteem and by doing something that brings them near the 'edge' makes them feel just like a rebel. Thus we see that labelling though released to help population and make it an improved place can actually make it worse. This area of the labelling theory has many coverage implications. Intervention could make things worse. Labelling theory helps the thought of radical non-interventionism, where policy dictates that certain acts are decriminalised and the removal of the communal stigmata bordering the functions.

The effect of labelling theory on juvenile behaviour is somewhat more pronounced and clear. Youths are specially vulnerable to labelling theory. Once they start to believe in their negative product labels, self rejection occurs which takes on a significant role in the social rejection theory. This self rejection attitude causes the rejection of the norms of population and provides them a motive to deviate from regular values of world. They then form bonds with like minded deviant peers. These youths then continue to reject those that have labelled them and have a tendency to set up their own legal lifestyles comprising criminal behavior. In schools, those that come from an operating category family or a lesser class, the children gangs are seen as 'trouble makers' set alongside the middle income gangs who are labelled as 'pranksters' instead. Research has shown that many of the youth gangs who result from the lower school get arrested and are labelled further as criminals.

Gouldner (1968) argued that labelling theorists made the individual look innocent by the use of brands by control providers including the police and society. He pointed out that deviance was made completely on the 'whims of expert'. An example to the would be the issue of homosexuality. Early on in the century, authorities labelled it legal and illegal. The ones that were trapped were persecuted therefore. But now, homosexuality can be an accepted truth in world and there are little or fewer stigmas and or labelling attached to it.

Thus as shown in these essay, labelling theory has many advantages and weaknesses. Those are, no works are inherently criminal, there may be a process of self-labelling, it covers or is supposed for all legal activity, depends upon the participants of the culture or the ones that do the labelling and finally it is determined by the personality of the individual. However, there already are inherent disadvantages with the downsides distributed by various specific sociologists. Those are that population changes, therefore does labelling. Individuals can rationalize their 'deviant' behaviour. Regardless of these, the major drawback of the labelling theory is having less empirical data to support it. We can thus conclude that labelling theory does have an effect, but is not the root cause for most of the acts committed.

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