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Labeling theory Definition from Social Science Dictionaries & Glossaries
Glossary of Sociology
A social theory that holds that society's reaction to certain behaviors is a major factor in defining the self as deviant. People become `deviant' because certain labels (thief, prostitute, homosexual) are attached to their behavior by criminal justice authorities and others. The resulting treatment of the individual pushes them into performing the deviant role. Also called "societal reaction" theory.
Labeling theory Definition from Encyclopedia Dictionaries & Glossaries
Wikipedia English - The Free Encyclopedia
Labeling theory is closely related to social-construction and symbolic-interaction analysis. Labeling theory was developed by sociologists during the 1960s. Howard Saul Becker's book Outsiders was extremely influential in the development of this theory and its rise to popularity. Labeling theory holds that deviance is not inherent to an act, but instead focuses on the tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from standard cultural norms. The theory is concerned with how the self-identity and behavior of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them. It is associated with the concepts of self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping. The theory was prominent during the 1960s and 1970s, and some modified versions of the theory have developed and are still currently popular. Unwanted descriptors or categorizations - including terms related to deviance, disability or diagnosis of a mental disorder - may be rejected on the basis that they are merely "labels", often with attempts to adopt a more constructive language in its place. A stigma is defined as a powerfully negative label that changes a person's self-concept and social identity.
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