Labeling Theory: History Of The Word Negger

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Labeling Theory

In general, labeling theorist focus on how and why certain acts are defined as criminal. Under labeling theory, nit everyone who commits an offense is punished for it. Becker (1963) stated that social groups create deviance by creating the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling as outsiders. As a result, once a certain label is placed on an individual, he or she eventually accept the label as personal identity. In the book Nigger, Kennedy (2002) traces the history of the word “nigger.” Kennedy states the word nigger can be said in many ways (e.g. niggor, niggah, nigguh, niggur, and niggar), put to many uses, and mean many things. For instance, nigger is
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Thus, they would support Kennedy on his lack of attention paid to such matter. Labelling theorists would praise Kennedy’s (2002) research on his extensive coverage of the word nigger, tracing its history and portraying the many ways, uses, and meaning of the word. Labelling theorist would also applaud his coverage of the ways in which African Americans react to the word or label, as demonstrated through various cases in chapter two, nigger in court. Nonetheless, labeling theorists would critique Kennedy on his huge reliance of the legal system to validate his arguments. Labeling theory posit that criminality or any labels, are established by those in power through creations of laws, rules or regulations and the interpretation of those laws by agents of the criminal justice system including the police, courts, and correctional institutions. Thus relying on the legal system to illustrate his arguments seem questionable. They would also criticize him for making excuses or justifying the use of the term by whites. One of his most important key point, if not the central argument, is that when white people say the N-word, it does not necessarily mean or imply they are racists. Labelling theorists would argue the opposite. They would argue, along with support from critical race theorists, that the use of slurs and labels by members of the majority groups, whites,results in the subordination of the minorities, especially people of color in society (Bell,
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