November 4, 2015 Northeastern University
Describe the labeling theory of deviance. What basic insight about deviance is offered by this approach? How is the labeling process different in cases of primary deviance and secondary deviance? What is the importance of stigma in labeling analysis? Write 300-350 words.
Labeling theory is an approach to deviance that explains why certain individuals are viewed as deviants and others engaged in the same behavior are not viewed as deviants. Society views deviance as a label assigned to behavior; one example of labeling theory is if an individual commits a crime and is defined a criminal, then society reacts to that person as a criminal, if society “agrees” that this crime is in fact true then it “becomes” true and understood as real. You may be labeled deviant if you do not follow the norms of society. …show more content…
Primary deviance refers to the initial act of deviance, but if the individual continues to turn away from this behavior, then their actions are “secondary deviance”. Labeling theory relies on the ideas of primary and secondary deviance. Primary deviance is the initial act of deviance, now if the person is later labeled as a deviant, then any following acts of deviance results in what is secondary deviance. Some social groups are at risk of being labeled after committing a primary act of deviance.
Example of primary deviance: Parents set up a playdate at one of their homes for their two little girls, the visitors leave and the girl takes a doll that belongs to her friend. On the way home the little girls is playing with the doll and her mother notices and returns to the family to confess and apologize for her act. The girl who visited her friend was not taught to steal, however if she continues to do so and is labeled a thief, then her situation becomes secondary