Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere Assess the Usefulness of Labelling Theory in Explaining Crime and Deviance.

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As explained in item a, the labelling theory explains how actions become labelled as criminal or deviant. The labelling theory explains how crime and deviance is a social construct as the laws and norms are constructed by society. The theory can be seen as useful in explaining crime and deviance yet this can be disputed. First of all, the labelling theory aims to answer the question, why and how people get labelled. One researcher found that police made decisions on whether to arrest youth based on their physical cues. Other decisions were made by their class, ethnicity and gender e.g. police were more likely to arrest an individual if they were a black working class boy. Furthermore Cicourel looked out other decisions such as stereotypes and generalisations, thus they concentrated on certain types of groups. This then lead for official statistics and the law enforcement to show a bias towards working class boys. This research shows how deviance only exists because people have decided to attach a label, thus the labelling theory is useful in explain how a deviant and criminal behaviour is classed as this. However, it fails to explain why some people certain crime and deviance in the first place before they are labelled. Also, as said in Item a ‘’deviant individuals are labelled when their actions are discovered and provoke reactions from society. However, this reaction will take differing forms, depending on how the nature of the action is perceived.’’ But as well as this, labelling theorists look at the effects and reaction it causes the individual to take. Lermert distinguished between two primary and secondary deviances as most theorists believe that labelling someone causes them to become deviant. Primary deviance is when the deviant act hasn’t been publicly labelled therefore it’s pointless to seek out causes of the deviance since it happens worldwide and
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