What Is Labelling Theory And What Might Be Its Limitations? Essay

1803 Words Jan 8th, 2015 8 Pages
What is ‘labelling theory’ and what might be its limitations?

Throughout sociology there are a wide range of theories all aiming to help explain crime and deviance. There is no exact explanation for what crime is and why certain people are more likely to be ‘deviant’; all theories put forward valid perspectives and are still regarded, to an extent, as relevant today. This essay will look into one of these theories in more detail, the interactionist theory, investigating in particular the labelling theory perspective. Drawing on the ideas of Howard (1963) and Lemert (1972) the basis of labelling theory will be explained referring to the explanations of Giddens and Sutton (2013) throughout. The essay will then go on to investigate the limitations of this theory looking at the positives and negative areas. The works of Schrag (1971) and Wellford (1975) will be referred to, to help explain what limitations are presented in the labelling theory. The essay will then draw a conclusion of the main factors of this theory and the relevance it holds in contrast to the limitations.

Labelling theory derives from the idea of the symbolic interactionist thinking in sociology. This idea originated from Mead in 1934 and was at the forefront of this way of thinking and is still, to an extent widely agreed upon (Matsueda, 1992). The idea of the interactionist theory is a way of looking at the social construction of crime and deviance while not having the approach that there are behaviors…

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