Edwin Lemert Labeling Theory

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responsibility of the individual committing or partaking in the crime. Though this is a common thought it is simply untrue because it eliminates many of the social and environmental factors that encourage deviant behavior. The truth is, society plays a significant role in whether or not deviant behavior stops or continues for a specific individual who has already committed a crime. Ideas and concepts under the Labeling theories emphasis society’s roles and states that, “efforts [of] social control (…) ultimately trigger processes that trap individuals in criminal careers” (Cullen, Agnew & Wilcox 2014). Essentially, society forces invasive labels and social reactions that then cause many Individuals with criminal past to create self-fulfilling …show more content…

Now, the labeling theory with the emphasis on social reaction theory in regards to deviant or criminal behavior denotes how social, governmental, or economic institutions construct and promote specific labels which …show more content…

As defined by Edwin Lemert, primary deviance, “ is polygenic, arising out of a variety of social, cultural, and psychological factors” (Lemert 1951). This is the type of deviance that occurs initially and does not necessarily have a deep impact on an individual’s life. Lemert could argue that everyone has performed acts of primacy deviance but this primary deviance does not associate completely with the deviant label. Those who commit acts of primary deviance often do not know that they are going against the norm or it is out of their usual character to act in a deviant manner. For example, a 4.0 student who decides to steal a small snack from a gas station is classified under primary deviance because it is an initial isolated incident. Now, secondary deviance occurs when this isolated incident comes in contact with social interactions that may continue someone’s deviant behavior. To be more specific, secondary deviance, “affects their identity or conceptions of themselves and narrows their ability to choose conventional over wayward paths” (Lemert 1951). This type of deviant does affect someone’s life in a profound way. Using the same example, the student who stole the snack from the store might come in contact (social interactions) with those who may label them a thief. Their identity transitions from being a 4.0 student to the person

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