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Outline And Assess Labelling Theory Explanations Of Crime And Deviance Notes

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Outline and assess labelling theory explanations of crime and deviance. The labelling theory is an action theory in which is influenced by the interactionist perspective of key thinker Weber. In order to understand crime and deviance, one must focus on social interaction situations and the power of the agents of social control (AOSC); family, peers, religion, education, work, media and the law to label behaviour, especially in terms of the mass media. Mass media saturates the postmodern society in which cultural relativity and social pluralism is increasingly accepted. Once labelled criminal or deviant by powerful members of the AOSC it becomes hard to escape the given label. Once labelled criminal or deviant an individual may internalise their label, resulting in a self fulfilling prophecy (SFP), which Merton describes as a cultural belief that becomes true because people act as though it is true, consequently increasing criminal and deviant behaviour. Key thinker Becker argues this may result in master statuses, deviant careers and deviant subcultures. Some may argue that there is no such thing as a 'deviant act'- Becker (1963) argues that an act is only seen as deviant when others see it as deviant and define it as such. Key thinker Lemert (1972) develops Becker's analysis and focuses on societal reactions- how others react to those labelled deviant, by distinguishing deviance through primary and secondary deviation. Key thinkers Becker and Lemert made important contribution to criminology as they influenced other perspectives such as new radical criminologists. However Becker and Lemert are criticised by Functionalists and Marxists for ignoring the cause of criminal and deviant behaviour within the UK 2011 Riots. Individual contributions made within the 2011 Riots may be argued to be a factor of individualism, which is the autonomous, self directed individual who makes identity and lifestyle choices for themselves. Weber defines key idea- the action theory; and argues that the individual shapes society through their interpretations and meanings. Interactionists argue that humans are sentient beings, in which humans have a high range of self awareness and express feelings and emotions to a great extent. Interactionists argue that as sentient beings, actions are carried out through intentions and motives, in which evidentially are choices. Mead argues that the self is socially constructed through the interactions which each person has with the community. More socially representative individuals such as police officers or judges may be able to make globally respected judgments. Mead (1967) suggests that socialisation relies upon an individual considering the other's view of him or herself as important and that having positive feelings towards another will greatly increase the chances that this person will become significant, thus reflecting upon belief and behaviour. The more differential the treatment, the more the individuals self-image is affected, thus the action of labelling can have a high risk effect on an individual and their self-image, in terms of generalising.

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