Sociology internationalist crime & deviance

Sociology internationalist crime & deviance

Quote by Howard Becker 1 963 “Deviancy is not a quality of the act a person commits but rather a ensconce of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’. Deviant behavior is behavior that people so label. ” The labeling theory has gradually been adopted and incorporated into other sociological approaches – for example Taylor, Walton and Young have used it in Marxist criminology and postmodernists owe a lot to it as well. Becker argues that 1 . Just because someone breaks a rule it does not necessarily follow that others will define it as deviant. 2.

Someone has to enforce the rules, or at least, draw attention to them – these people usually have a vested interest in he issue. 3. If the person is successfully labeled then consequences follow. Once publicly labeled as deviant, an offender is left facing a limited number of options. Responding to and Enforcing the Rules Most sociological theories presume that once a deviant or criminal act has been committed then the response will be uniform, however this is not the case as people respond differently to deviance or rule breaking. In the early sass’s gay men were more likely to be stigmatize than now.

John Kitties interviewed 75 heterosexual students to obtain their responses to (presumed) sexual advances from gay men. The point of this was to show that there was no agreed definition of what constituted a homosexual advance it was open to negotiation. In Britain today, British Crime Survey statistics show that young black males are more likely to be stopped and searched than any other group. It is argued that this is a result of the police officers belief that they are more likely to offend than any other social group and they therefore become subjects of routine suspicion.

Criticisms Akers criticisms Labeling Theorists as they present deviant people as ‘normal’ and the ‘same’ as everyone else until someone comes and gives them a label. He argues that there must be some reason why the label is applied to certain groups / people and not others, and therefore the theory is incomplete, as it doesn’t explain this. The Consequences of Rule Enforcement Being labeled deviant and having laws enforced against you is the result of a number of different factors.

However, once successfully labeled as deviant various consequences occur for that individual. The clearest example of this is provided by Edwin Element (1972) who distinguished between primary and secondary deviance. Primary deviance is rule breaking, which is of little importance in itself. Secondary deviance is the consequence of the responses of others, which is significant. The person labeled as deviant will eventually come to see himself or herself as being bad (or mad, Coffman or the example of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest’).

Becker used the term master status to describe this process and points out that once a label has successfully been applied to a person than all other qualities become unimportant and they ate responded to solely in terms of this master status. Rejecting Labels – Negotiability The process of being labeled is up for negotiation; some groups or individuals are able to reject the label. An example Of this is Rises’ study Of male prostitutes, as although they engaged in homosexual behavior they regarded what they did as work and maintained an image of being ‘straight’, despite engaging in sexual activity with men.

Deviant Career The idea of a master status and negotiability led Becker to devise the idea of a ‘deviant career’. This concept refers to the processes involved in labeling and then whether or not a person takes on the self-image of the ‘deviant’. Creating Rules Once labeling theorists began the process of looking at how social life was pen to negotiation and that rule enforcement was no different than other social activities, their attention shifted to the creation Of rules and laws and why they were made.

Traditionally sociologists took a Marxist view that they were made in the interest or the ruling class, or they took a more functionalist view that laws in a democracy were a reflection of the views of the majority of the population. Becker doubted both these accounts and argued instead that: “Rules are the products of someone’s initiative and we can think of the people who exhibit such enterprises as ‘moral entrepreneurs’. ” So labeling theorists argue that laws are a reflection of the activities of people (moral entrepreneurs) who actively seek to create and enforce laws.

The reasons for this are either that the new laws will benefit the activists directly or that the activists believe that the laws are truly beneficial to society. Backer’s most famous example of this is his study following the outlawing of cannabis in the USA in 1937. Becker as well as other sociologists use term ‘moral crusade’ to describe the movements/actions taken to pass laws. The idea that those who seek to pass laws or impose rule upon others have en largely accepted by sociologists. However Marxist point out that there is a wider framework in which they develop.

They criticism Labeling Theorists for not answering key questions such as; What are the conditions in which some groups succeed to pass laws while others fail? The Labeling Theory doesn’t address the issue of differences in power between groups, which makes some more able than others to get laws passed and enforced which are beneficial to them. Labeling and Values – Famous Article by Becker He argues that the labeling theory has a clear value position – that is, it speaks up for the powerless and the underdog.

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