Labeling Theory and Symbolic Interaction Theory

V. Conclusion

Labeling theory argues that social groups create deviance by agreeing on rules and laws and by applying these laws to individuals. In this perspective, the reaction to criminal behavior is just as crucial to the study of crime as an individual criminal’s behavior. The labeling perspective posits a dynamic process whereby an individual is labeled either a deviant or a criminal, internalizes that behavior by coming to view himself or herself as deviant or criminal, and then continues in behavior that is consistent with the applied label.

Labeling theory acts most effectively as a bridge between consensus theories of criminality (rational choice, social learning, social disorganization, strain, subculture, and control theories) and critical theories that examine the impact of social structures on criminality. This is a function that no other criminological theory can serve, and it illustrates the importance of this theory.

Read more about Criminology Theories.

References:

  1. Adams, M. S., Johnson, J. D., & Evans, T. D. (1998). Racial differences in informal labeling effects. Deviant Behavior, 19, 157–171.
  2. Akers, R. (1967). Problems in the sociology of deviance: Social definitions and behavior. Social Forces, 46, 455–465.
  3. Becker, H. S. (1963). Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: Free Press.
  4. Beirne, P., & Messerschmidt, J.W. (2000). Criminology (3rd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  5. Bernburg, J. G., & Krohn, M. D. (2003). Labeling, life chances, and adult crime: The direct and indirect effects of official intervention in adolescence on crime in early adulthood. Criminology, 41, 1287–1318.
  6. Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  7. Bowers,W. J., & Salem, R. G. (1972). Severity of social sanctions as a repressive response to deviant behavior. Law & Society Review, 6, 427–441.
  8. Cao, L. (2004). Major criminological theories: Concepts and measures. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  9. Cohen, S. (1995). Deviance and moral panics. In S. Caffrey (Ed.), The sociology of crime and deviance: Selected issues (pp. 128–156). Kent, UK: Greenwich University Press.
  10. Cooley, C. H. (1926). Social process. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  11. Cooley, C. H. (1998). On self and social organization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  12. Debro, J. (1970). Dialogue with Howard S. Becker. Issues in Criminology, 5, 159–179.
  13. Farrington, D. P. (1977). The effects of public labeling. British Journal of Criminology, 17, 112–125.
  14. Foster, J. D., Dinitz, S., & Reckless, W. C. (1972). Perceptions of stigma following public interventions for delinquent behavior. Social Problems, 20, 202–209.
  15. Gibbs, J. P. (1966). Conceptions of deviant behavior: The old and the new. Pacific Sociological Review, 9, 9–14.
  16. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  17. Hagan, J. (1973). Labeling and deviance: A case study in the sociology of the interesting. Social Problems, 20, 447–458.
  18. Heimer, K., & Matsueda, R. L. (1994). Role-taking, role commitment, and delinquency: A theory of differential social control. American Sociological Review, 59, 365–390.
  19. Hirschi, T. (1969). The causes of delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  20. Hirschi, T. (1975). Labeling theory and juvenile delinquency: An assessment of the evidence. In W. R. Gove (Ed.), The labeling of deviance: Evaluating a perspective (pp. 157–180). New York: Halstead.
  21. Kaplan, H. B., & Damphousse, K. R. (1997). Negative social sanctions, self-derogation, and deviant behavior: Main and interactive effects in longitudinal perspective. Deviant Behavior, 18, 1–26.
  22. Kaplan, H. B., & Johnson, R. J. (1991). Negative social sanctions and juvenile delinquency: Effects of labeling in a model of deviant behavior. Social Science Quarterly, 72, 98–122.
  23. Kitsuse, J. I. (1962). Societal reaction to deviant behavior: Problems of theory and method. Social Problems, 9, 247–256.
  24. Kobrin, S. (1976). Labeling approaches: Problems and limits. In J. F. Short (Ed.), Delinquency, crime, and society (pp. 1–15). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  25. Lemert, E. M. (1951). Social pathology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  26. Lemert, E. M. (1967). Human deviance, social problems, and social control. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  27. Lemert, E. M. (1974). Beyond Mead: The societal reaction to deviance. Social Problems, 21, 457–468.
  28. Link, B. G., Cullen, F. T., Struening, E., Shrout, P. E., & Dohrenwend, B. P. (1989). A modified labeling theory approach to mental assessment. American Sociological Review, 54, 400–423.
  29. Liu, X. (2000). The conditional effect of peer groups on the relationship between parental labeling and youth delinquency. Sociological Perspectives, 43, 499–514.
  30. Mankoff, M. (1971). Societal reaction and career deviance: A critical analysis. Sociological Quarterly, 12, 204–218.
  31. Matsueda, R. L. (1992). Reflected appraisals, parental labeling, and delinquency: Specifying a symbolic interactionist theory. American Journal of Sociology, 97, 1577–1611.
  32. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society from the standpoint of a social behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  33. Mead, G. H. (1977). On social psychology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  34. Paternoster, R., & Iovanni, L. (1989). The labeling perspective and delinquency: An elaboration of the theory and an assessment of the evidence. Justice Quarterly, 6, 359–394.
  35. Paternoster, R., & Triplett, R. A. (1988). Disaggregating self-reported delinquency and its implications for theory. Criminology, 26, 591–625.
  36. Schur, E. M. (1971). Labeling deviant behavior: Its sociological implications. New York: Harper & Row.
  37. Tannenbaum, F. (1938). Crime and the community. Boston: Ginn and Company.
  38. Thomas, C.W., & Bishop, D. M. (1984). The effect of formal and informal sanctions on delinquency: A longitudinal comparison of labeling and deterrence theories. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 75, 1222–1245.
  39. Thorsell, B. A., & Klemke, L. W. (1972). The labeling process: Reinforcement and deterrent? Law & Society Review, 6, 393–403.
  40. Tittle, C. R. (1975). Deterrents or labeling? Social Forces, 53, 399–410.
  41. Triplett, R. A., & Jarjoura, G. R. (1994). Theoretical and empirical specifications of a model of informal labeling. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 10, 241–276.
  42. Ward, D. A., & Tittle, C. R. (1993). Deterrence or labeling: The effects of informal sanctions. Deviant Behavior, 14, 43–64.
  43. Wellford, C. (1975). Labeling theory and criminology: An assessment. Social Problems, 22, 332–345.