Last updated: August 27, 2019
Topic: SocietyCrime
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In order to discourse this statement we must foremost understand labelling theory. Labeling theory was developed by Becker in 1963 in order to reply how and why certain behavior is considered aberrant, and understand what the effects of this are. This is a going from old criminological theories which tended to take ‘crime ‘ as a fact, ‘a signifier of activity that violates the condemnable jurisprudence ‘ ( Hopkins Burke, 2009 p.167 ) and concentrate on the causes and effects of this, whereas labelling theory was more concerned with understanding how the construct of offense and aberrance is established. This emerged from Tannenbaum ‘s ( 1938 ) research into juvenile delinquency, which stated that ‘delinquents…are good childs making bad things, they become labeled as bad childs and go on in that vena ‘ ( Newburn, 2007 p.213 ) . From this, Becker ( 1963 ) argued that aberrance was non an act in itself, but a label placed on an act by the societal reaction to it, that ‘deviant behavior is behaviour that people so label ‘ ( Becker, 1963, cited in Newburn, 2007 ) , and that the application of this label is more of import to the creative activity of aberrance than the act of rule-breaking itself.

Gibbs ( 1966, cited in Hopkins Burke, 2009 ) criticises labelling theory for placing a difference between primary and secondary aberrance, without being able to clearly specify what aberrance is. Lemert ( 1951, cited in Curran and Renzetti, 1994 ) outlined primary divergence as straightforward regulation breakage, normally for societal, political or economic addition, and secondary divergence as any aberrant behavior that follows as a consequence of social reactions to the primary aberrance. As labelling theory is concerned with the creative activity and application of this social reaction, primary divergence is merely relevant if it elicits this response. Despite this claim that an act is merely aberrant once it has been labelled as such, labelling theoreticians do mention to both primary aberrance ( a pervert act that is committed before the application of the label ) , and secret aberrance, a aberrant act that is non reacted to, possibly because it is non known approximately. This has led to claim that labelling theory is excessively contradictory and equivocal to be effectual.

This leads to the statement that labelling theory does non put adequate accent on single pick. Newburn ( 2007 ) identifies the failure to explicate primary aberrance as a strong unfavorable judgment of labelling theory, as it portrays wrongdoers as inactive victims of society, and offers really small account as to why people choose to pique in the first topographic point. This efficaciously removes duty from the wrongdoer by portraying them as a victim of ‘moral enterprisers ‘ – those in society who create and enforce the regulations of deviancy. Becker ( 1963 ) argued that these people are frequently in a place of power, and implementing these regulations on those of a lower position is a signifier of societal control. This lends strength to the image of the wrongdoer as a victim of society. However it fails to turn to the picks made by the person that leads to the label of pervert being imposed on them, and the possibility that some people ‘actively seek out a aberrant label ‘ ( Newburn, 2007 p.222 ) While some critics have accepted the thought that ‘deviance is non merely an built-in belongings of an act ‘ ( Taylor, Walton and Young, 1973, cited in Hopkins Burke, 2009 p.176 ) , they still argue that the failure to put any duty on the person or supply any account of picks made by them, is a cardinal defect in labelling theory, and that as Newburn ( 2007 ) provinces, it places excessively small importance on the act committed in the first topographic point.

As stated above, a cardinal point in labelling theory is that it forces people into the function of wrongdoer, and that the application of this stigmatizing label can do it more likely that the individual in inquiry will so see themselves in that function and go on to pique, doing the procedure a self-fulfilling prognostication – labelling person a felon will take to a condemnable calling. It follows that if this is true, it means condemnable behavior is in fact reinforced by province intercession ( for illustration strong belief of a condemnable offense ) . This leads to another unfavorable judgment of the theory as it passes duty for offense from the wrongdoer to the condemnable justness system, saying that the attempts made by the system ( apprehension, imprisonment, rehabilitation etc ) ‘to prevent offense really do offense ‘ ( Cullen and Agnew, 2006 p.267 ) . Downes and Rock ( 2007 ) elaborate on this statement, saying that if this thought of a self-fulfilling prognostication is true so ‘the bureaus of the State could make far more aberrance than would otherwise exist by criminalizing morally upseting activities [ and ] by attributing…stigmatizing characteristics to deviant groups ‘ ( Downes and Rock, 2007 p.134 ) . Newburn ( 2007 ) states that the most utmost signifier of this theory was seen in Schur ‘s 1973 publication, Radical Nonintervention, which advocated the abolishment of all penalty for juvenile delinquents in order to forestall them from going calling felons.

This labelling theory proposal, that social reaction leads wrongdoers into a condemnable calling, fails to turn to why some secret perverts, who may ne’er be labelled as felons, offend repeatedly, whereas a one clip wrongdoer who is labelled as such by society, may ne’er pique once more. This is a point addressed by Braithwaite ( 1989 ) who posited the theory of disintegrative and reintegrative shaming as an account of why some alleged perverts re-offend whereas others do non. He classified dishonoring as indicants of ‘disapproval which have the purpose or consequence of raising compunction in the individual being shamed and/or disapprobation by others ‘ ( Braithwaite, 1989, cited in Newburn, 2007 ) . He believed re-offending was a consequence of disintegrative dishonoring – a procedure whereby the wrongdoer was stigmatised and excluded, in line with labelling theory. However he besides offered the thought of reintegrative shaming, where the initial disapproval is followed by rehabilitation procedures that allow the wrongdoer to travel on from the label of pervert and reintegrate back into society. Newburn ( 2007 ) states that Braithwaite ‘s theory was successful in incorporating facets of labelling theory with other, more widely recognized theoretical accounts of condemnable behavior, such as societal disorganization theory, and has been utile in the State ‘s efforts to present more renewing justness to the condemnable justness system, particularly when looking at juvenile wrongdoers.

An of import point which helps to sum up these unfavorable judgments is the statement that there is no empirical grounds for the being of secondary divergence being caused by the labelling of person as pervert, delinquent or felon.

However, Hopkins Burke ( 2009 ) provinces that when looking at these unfavorable judgments, it is of import to observe that Becker did non mean for his work to be seen as a true theory for understanding condemnable behavior, but merely as a different position of nearing research into this country