Labelling Theory And Crime

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Labelling is an intrinsic response which occurs as people interact with society and associate other individuals or groups with a certain category that reflects on their behaviours and actions. The labelling phenomenon generates a wide range of positive and negative consequences. It can encourage an individual to strive for extraordinary achievements, or completely destroy his or her honour through stigmatization. The labelling theory refers to the social reaction to deviance, and criminologists propose that deviant labels determine or influence an individual’s future delinquency. The social elites establish acceptable social norms and actively engage in the labelling process where powerless groups are unable to resist these imposed stigmatizations. An individual eventually accepts his or her deviant label and completes the self-fulfilling prophecy by participating in criminal activities. The labelling theory was once a predominant explanation of crime and deviance, but there is a lack of empirical support that directly correlates deviant labels with deviant behaviour, thus suggests that the theory still has flaws (Cartwright, 2011). The labelling theory emerges from the School of Chicago, with many theorists being members of the Chicago school, or simply influenced by Chicago School thinking. Frank Tannenbaum and Edwin Lemert are one of the first individuals to suggest a link between social reaction and delinquency. Tannenbaum observes that the juvenile delinquent label
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