Social Deviance In Howard Becker's Labeling Theory

486 Words2 Pages
Howard Becker’s Labeling Theory explains social deviance based on societal reaction and subsequent labeling of an individual for infractions of the social rules established in a particular time or place which may or may not be applied fairly, justly, or with any consistency. The deviant—rule breaker—and the conformist—obedient—are easier to determine according to the theory; however, “falsely accused” and “secret deviance” lie on opposite ends of the spectrum and define the exceptions to the theory (Lynxwiler, 2016).” Falsely accused” is a concept Becker describes as a person who is labeled incorrectly based on the perception of deviance (Lynxwiler, 2016). Becker defines “secret deviance” as an act or behavior that does not elicit a response…show more content…
Without an observable victim, society may have a hard time successfully applying a deviant label. For example, millions of people illegally downloaded music from Napster by file sharing; however, they were not labeled thieves because it seemed harmless. This scenario had victims—the artists whose music was being pirated; however, this is an instance where labels were not applied correctly and/or fairly. Likewise, if no one knows about the behavior, a label cannot be successfully applied. For example, if I tell a “dirty joke” in class and no one censures me for being crass, rude, or sexually harassing, then I have committed an offense without a negative response. Notably, a “dirty joke” a few decades ago in a public place offended people and they would have labeled me unfit to be around their children—a deviant. Lastly, expectations of sexual orientation have evolved into semi-acceptance over the last few years; however, there are still some sexual situations that are deviant but allow for choices made by consenting adults. An example of this type of situation is the BDSM lifestyle which has made it to the “big screen” in the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. While the portrayal inaccurately portrayed the tenets of the lifestyle, many people watched that movie with gross interest into how it all works. Defense of the lifestyle by people who had never been exposed to it made me chuckle. The biggest defense conveyed two consenting adults who understand the terms of the relationship. So, because it is portrayed as romantic and sexy, it is not considered deviant which highlights time and place application and response application of the Labeling Theory. Conclusively, secret deviance is an outlier of the Labeling theory and is consistent with the tenets of that theory and the

More about Social Deviance In Howard Becker's Labeling Theory

Open Document