Labelling Theory And Its Effects On Society

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Labelling theory has some limitations when used to describe queerness. Firstly, the “deviant” label does not actually create the queerness it describes, but rather emphasizes the importance of this label to society through the negative sanctions experienced by queer individuals. This theory overlooks the initial deviant act and therefore, the label does not actually create the deviance. As Clinard and Meier (2014) state, secondary deviation can occur even without arrest and negative sanctions. Most people who develop homosexual identities do so independent of contact with police officers or psychiatrists. This theory also does not provide concrete explanation of how much negative sanctions are needed to acquire a deviant label. Some queer individuals will experience less negative sanctions than others, but that does not make their label any less queer because one person cannot be more “gay” than another. And as discussed in lecture, labelling theory focuses on lower class deviance, but social and economic class has nothing to do with queerness.
As aforementioned, defining homosexuality and LGBTQIA+ identification as a deviation does not account for the fact that it is not historically illegal or unnatural. Like many other such deviation, queerness is defined as deviant because it is regarded as different, only affecting a minority. According to Statistics Canada, out of Canadians aged 18 to 59, only 1.3% reported in 2012 that they consider themselves to be homosexual (gay or lesbian) and 1.1% consider themselves to be bisexual. As previously mentioned, homosexuality is best-known and publicized, so many of the topics focus more on this than the other LGBTQIA+ labels, even though no label is more important or real...

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...mans like everyone else. This huge improvement brings with it the hope that one day, LGBTQIA+ individuals will not have to be labelled as deviant when discrimination and negative sanctions will cease to exist for this community.
Ultimately, there is still much to be learned about LGBTQIA+ individuals as this group continues to move closer to equality. Deviance changes over time - it already has for homosexuality and most LGBTQIA+ identities - and will continue to change as more and more research will better explain the labelling process in relation to this community. As more proof of biological origins of homosexuality is demonstrated, more people begin to understand how it is a non-problem. Until then, labelling theory will be a useful way through which to examine these identities and the negative sanctions these identities bring for the labelled individuals.
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