Labeling Theory : Social Psychology And Symbolic Interactionism Essay

Labeling Theory : Social Psychology And Symbolic Interactionism Essay

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Labeling Theory
The labeling theory is the concept of how to self-identity and behavior of individuals that may determine or influence the terms used to describe or classify them. Labeling theory can be related to high school when cliques or different categories of students such as the jocks, nerds, outcast, and popular girls. All of these groups are classified by specific traits each of them have. The labeling theory is situated in the larger framework of social psychology and symbolic interactionism in sociology. This is a mirco-level, relativist perspective that is focused on how individuals and the meaning they attach to objects, people, and interactions around them. Symbolic interactionists advocate direct observation of the social world as it is experienced and understood by the individuals acting in it. Labeling theorist examine the social meaning of deviant labels, how those labels are understood, and how they affect the individuals to which they are applied. Within the labeling theory there are two types of deviance, the reaction to the behavior or the person is the key element in defining deviance. An example of this is how taking a life of another person is seen as committing a crime however, in times of war taking a life can be viewed as acceptable.
The two types of deviance that surround the labeling theory are primary and secondary deviance. Edwin Lemert made the important distinction between the two types. Primary deviance refers to common instances where individuals violate norms without viewing themselves as being involved in a deviant social role. Primary deviance consists of incidental deviant acts, which an individual breaks or violates norms but does not do so chronically. For example, teens may occasion...


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...ot mean that is their label for life, this does not mean they must act like a jock forever. When people are predisposed to a label they feel that they must live up to that label, because of the way they are viewed and treated by adults, teachers, and police officers. If a boy who was seen as a straight A student was pulled over and the car smelt like marijuana their in a huge chance that the police officer when let them go without a charge because of their label, however if a boy who is know for trouble in the community is pulled over and the police officer smelt marijuana they would immediately be searched and probably arrested. Labels can benefit people however, they can also bring a person down. If a person is labeled as dumb or an outcast they will feel that they cannot change the way people look at them and might not try as hard as others in succeeding in life.

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