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Labeling Theory in Deviance.

Labeling Theory in Deviance.


Labeling Theory, as presented in Chapter 07, provides insights into how individuals may be given a “deviant” label by society and how they may subsequently internalize this label, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy of expectation. To illustrate this process, let us consider an example of a person involved in non-violent civil disobedience as a form of protest.

  1. Initial Labeling: The process begins with an individual engaging in civil disobedience, such as participating in a peaceful protest or sit-in to advocate for social or political change. Initially, this person is just an ordinary citizen with a cause. However, some members of society may perceive their actions as deviant, especially those who disagree with their cause or methods. At this stage, society’s reaction is crucial.
  2. Reaction of Society (Audience):
    • Negative Labeling: Some segments of society may label the individual as a troublemaker, disruptor, or criminal. These labels often come from those who view the act as a threat to the existing social order or their interests.
    • Positive Labeling: Conversely, others may label the individual as a social justice advocate, activist, or hero for their commitment to a cause they believe in.
  1. Label Reinforcement:
    • Negative Labeling: Those who negatively label the individual may engage in behaviors that reinforce this label. They might report the individual to the authorities, criticize them in the media, or socially ostracize them. Law enforcement may become involved, leading to arrests and legal charges.
    • Positive Labeling: Conversely, those who positively label the person may offer support, amplify their message through social media, and join them in their protests.
  1. Internalization of the Label: The individual at the center of this process may start to internalize the label assigned to them, which can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy:
    • If labeled negatively and repeatedly treated as deviant, they may perceive themselves as troublemakers, potentially leading to disillusionment with the system and an alignment with deviant subcultures.
    • If they are positively labeled and supported, they may become more committed to their cause and the methods they use, reinforcing their identity as a social justice advocate.
  1. Behavioral Changes:
    • Negative Labeling: As individuals internalize the deviant label, they may become more radical or confrontational. This could lead to a cycle of further negative reactions from society, potentially resulting in criminal charges or more severe forms of repression.
    • Positive Labeling: Conversely, those who embrace the positive label may become more committed to non-violent protest, increasing mobilization and potentially achieving their social or political goals.

In summary, Labeling Theory explains how an individual may be initially labeled by society based on their actions, how these labels are reinforced through social reactions, and how the individual may internalize these labels, ultimately shaping their behavior and identity. Whether the label is positive or negative, it can profoundly impact the individual’s path and the outcome of their actions.

Labeling Theory in Deviance.



Utilizing Labeling Theory as presented in Ch. 07, explain the process of how an individual may be given a “deviant” title (note: deviance may be either positive or negative) by society (audience) as well as how the individual may internalize such a label, thus leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy of expectation.

In other words, walk us through the process by which a person is initially labeled, how such labels are reinforced, and what factors eventually lead the person to internalize and therefore “become” what society has thus defined!

Note: You may choose any type of action (criminal or otherwise) in order to explain your process regarding Labeling Theory.

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