Labelling Crime and Deviance


Essay plan in form of a flowchart
Jess Bailey
Flowchart by Jess Bailey, updated more than 1 year ago
Jess Bailey
Created by Jess Bailey almost 7 years ago

Resource summary

Flowchart nodes

  • Point = Becker claims that no behaviour is inherintly deviant
  • Labelling essay plan
  • Explanation= moral entrepreneurs have to draw focus to the act and if they are successfully labelled consequences will follow
  • Evidence= Jock Young's case study on the drug takers. NIMBYS drew attention to it, followed by the media, highlighted to social agencies
  • However, this can be criticised for failing to explain the primary causes of deviance- why do people commit crime before being labelled?
  • Labelling theorists respond by saying crime is too commonplace to focus on the causes
  • But this fails to distinguish between seriousness of the crime- labelling could be not based on biases but on the seriousness or frequency
  • Point= Consequence of the label being applied- Master status/self fulfilling prophecy
  • Point= Cohen states that labelling can lead to a moral panic
  • Creation of rules and laws- labelling theorists believe laws are a reflection of the activities of moral entreprenuers.
  • phenomenology- concentrates on the process by which some acts are labelled as deviant and others are not
  • Explanation- Person labelled as deviant will internalise label and come to see themselves as bad. All other qualities become unimportant
  • Example- 'criminal' is a master status. For instance, someone who has been known to be a peadophile will probably never be known by any other qualities again
  • Criticised for suggesting that the self fulfilling prophecy and formation of master status always occurs
  • This is not the case as is seen with Fuller and Mac an Ghails study of black and asian school girls rejected their negative labels and went on to be successful academically
  • Therefore the theory can be seen as a deterministic theory
  • Explanation=when whole groups become demonised and seen as folk devils due to the medias over reporting of them
  • Evidence- Cohen's study of mods and rockers. Two subcultures that 'clashed'. Over reporting caused deviancy amplification and moral panic
  • Modern examples= mugging- stuart Hall, knife crime, chavs etc
  • This labelling and moral panic can in turn lead to the formation of subcultures. The 'mods' and the 'rockers' formed stronger links with those who had been labelled similar to them
  • This idea of moral panics has been criticised for being outdated- it is no longer useful in an age of technology and more sophisticated audiences
  • BUT others argue moral panics is still relevant in society today. 
  • Explanation- these groups actively seek to create and enforce laws that they want.
  • Example- Outlawing of cannabis in the USA in 1937. Result of a campaign waged by the federal bureau of narcotics
  • Marxists criticise labelling theorists for ignoring the wider framework within which this takes place. Doesn't explain why these groups have more power to create rules 
  • Explanation- cicoroul argues that it is based on a series of negotiations and interactions.
  • Middle classes can use their cultural capital to negotiate their way out of trouble and being labelled.
  • Police use typifications to decide whether to stop and search or question an individual. 
  • Typifications are the meanings held and the mental categories used 
  • Cicourels work shows how justice can be negotiated and suggests how important existing mental categories 
  • Fails to explain where meanings come from in the first place
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