Social Reaction Theory

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Discussion on the Social Reaction (Labeling) Theory of Crime The Social Process Theory of crime suggests that crime is derived from socialization with others, as well as the types of connections the criminal has with his or her community and social institutions. There are three sub-categories of theory: The Social Learning Theory, The Social Control Theory, and The Social Reaction (Labeling) Theory. Each deal with how the community could affect a criminal’s actions, each having their own distinct definition. But out of the three The Social Reaction (Labeling) Theory has the most roots within each of its counterparts. Looking at the definition and different types of the sub-theory, we can see this and much more, including an in depth take…show more content…
Consequences of Labeling (The Different Types)
Going off the definition, the whenever people are labeled as such there are positive and negative consequences to the actions. When positively labeled, people often either take it as a compliment with a little boost to their confidence, or they really don’t notice it therefore not affecting them at all. When negatively labeled, there are many consequences that lead into the deviant actions spoken of.
1. Self-Labeling
When others isolated because of their looks, personality, or actions, often what will occur is the person being isolated will begin to apply the label given to them to themselves. Large, African-American males are often put aside as “scary” or “mean”. Kids with illnesses or disorders such as anxiety or autism are labeled as “weak” or “weird”. Whenever these types of kids (and more) are presented to society and labeled, these preconceived notions affect the ones who receive it, causing them to think they are what others say they are. This includes not just thinking upon, but also acting upon it. The same African-American males labeled as “mean” or “scary” will apply that label to themselves and act that way, showing aggression that leads into criminal actions. Kids with anxiety or autism labeled “weird” or “weak” when applying that label to themselves will, when acting that way, force themselves to do reckless actions that could cause harm to them and others to prove themselves otherwise.
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This theory states that whenever people are close to good communities and families, they are less likely to commit deviant acts. The good company, accountability, and example give others the social and sometimes physical benefits they seek, making crime seem not so worth it. Whenever they are separated from these groups, they are more likely to join these deviant cliques and join in on dangerous acts.
3. Retrospective Reading
The Labeling theory also addresses those who are already criminals who continue to be. Once someone commits a criminal act, he or she is remembered for it. Depending upon the act, others might see this person as lower or unwanted. In severe cases, they might even be feared in the community they live in. This is called retrospective reading, and is defined more in detail by Larry Siegel in his Criminology: The Core:
“Retrospective Reading: The reassessment of a person’s past to fit a current generalized label.” (Siegel, pg. 188)
This consequence of labeling sets the criminal down a hard road called a degradation ceremony. In this process their identity is destroyed and redefined as socially unacceptable, leading them into a continuing cycle of the same actions and consequences that lead them into committing crime in the first place. Eventually the person begins to lose themselves, and the road to recovery gets harder and harder as their deviance
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