Exploring Theory: The Consequences Of Labelling Theory

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Labelling theory emerged in the early 1960s challenging the positivist stance on criminology, thus creating a paradigm shift in the way that crime and deviance was viewed in society. Disparate from their positivist criminological predecessors, labelling theorists were solely interested in deviance, rather than crime (Coleman and Norris 2000). The willingly accepted, deterministic approach of traditional criminologists was highly contested by labelling theorists due to their recognition of temporal, situational and spatial variation. Consequently, labelling theorists claimed that deviance is merely a social construction, whereby no behaviour is intrinsically deviant (Becker 1963). Actions only become deviant as a response to the process of…show more content…
This essay will firstly explore how labelling theory derived from action theories, followed by the consequences for the individual as a result of labelling including the contributions of the most influential labelling theorists namely Becker (1963), Lemert (1961). Furthermore, the essay will then consider the consequences when labels are applied to groups of people, as well as whether there is a typical recipient of such deviant labels. Lastly, labelling theory will be critiqued, suggesting its limitations as proposed by contrasting sociological groups. Labelling theory derived from action theories; namely…show more content…
However it is important to recognise that the criticisms of labelling theory are not straight-forward. The complexity of criticism is due to the diverse range of theorists’ stances within the labelling theory (Heidensohn 1989). Such criticisms will now be identified and

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