The labeling theory posits that deviance is not inherent in action but instead the reaction to behavior by a social group. The reactions are influenced more by the group’s labeling process than the actual action itself.
A behavior can be seen as deviant or normal depending on whether it has been labeled correctly or incorrectly. Labeling comes with much stigma hence the need for social groups to be sensitive about its effects.
There are two types of labeling theory: labeling individuals’ behavior and how groups react to certain behaviors. The focus for this will not be on the group’s reaction but more on individual behavior.
Labeling calls out deviance which is divided into primary deviance and secondary deviance.
Primary deviance refers to a person’s first act of deviance because the individual has not been labeled before. It can be a behavior that is frowned upon by a specific group or society as a whole. The behavior itself can be committed by different people, whether it is deviant or not.
In contrast to primary deviance, secondary deviance is a behavior for which an individual or group has already been labeled. It can be a behavior that has been committed before, acted on by different people, or a specific person.
The difference between primary and secondary deviance is not based on the action itself but rather when the behavior was committed.
Stage 1: The individual commits the deviant act
Stage 2: The deviant act is noticed, and the individual labeled
Stage 3: The behavior spreads to other individuals in a social group
Stage 4: The social group develops a negative view of the behavior
Criminal-This is someone who has violated the law and has also gone against social norms. Labeling criminals is a social control method that aims at shaming them so that they can stop being deviant.
Society often labels criminals as people who have made mistakes from which they should learn. However, if the criminal commits additional crimes after being released, society will be less likely to show them mercy.
A Rapist– A rapist is a person who has forced himself of an unwilling partner for his sexual gratification. Once society labels them as a rapist, their behavior can be seen as deviant and once society has labeled them they become more likely to act out their role.
This type of labeling is especially important because there are no outward signs that a person is a rapist.
Mentally Ill-A mentally ill person may be deviant or not. Mentally ill people are often viewed as those who can’t control their actions and will do anything they want to do. They can be dangerous and even harmful to other people.
If someone is labeled as being mentally ill, it may cause them to act out their role further to be accepted by society. Unjustifiable violence is a sign of mental illness.
Gay-This is someone in a sexual relationship with a member of the same sex and has not been labeled as deviant by society. Because of historical attitudes towards gay people, people may have labeled them as deviants.
Societies often treat gays as deviants who cannot control their sexual urges and will behave in a way that is not accepted by others. They are often viewed as spreading their deviant behavior and trying to influence other people to be gay.
Abuse Victim-An abused person may be someone who has been physically or emotionally abused. Once society labels someone as an abused person, they may be less likely to act appropriately in certain situations. This is because the behavior of being abused can take a toll on a person and cause them to act out or lash out at other people.
Drug Addict-If a person is addicted to drugs, it is viewed as deviant behavior. People are less likely to call them drug addicts because it will cause them to act out their roles. After labeling an addict, others may label them as not fit for society and help them.
Atheist-To be an atheist is not deviant. This label can be applied to anyone in society. However, a particular group may use this label to discriminate against a person based on matters of faith. Labels have consequences, and they affect those who engage in deviant acts and those who don’t. It all depends on the motive and the behavior associated with the label.
Child Molester-A child molester is a person who has engaged in sexual activity with a minor. Society looks at them as pedophiles, and they are not treated in the same way as other criminals.
Child molesters are considered a disgrace to the human race.
Gay Basher-Gay bashing refers to a hate crime where the perpetrator finds a different sexual orientation target. This means that they are looking for gay people and an opportunity to hurt them.
The attacker will often use derogatory terms and physically assault them. This form of hate crime is because the perpetrator views the gay person in a different light.
Disabled-A disabled person is someone who has some form of physical or mental disability that affects their everyday life. Not all disabled people are different from those who are not disabled. If a person is behaviorally disabled, the label can cause them to act out their role.
The label can cause people to treat disabled people differently and make them seem like second-class citizens. Those that are disabled may not be able to get the same things in society that others can.
This type of discrimination is often referred to as ableism, and it has been a major issue in the past and present.
Drug Dealer-A drug dealer sells drugs as a source of income. They are not necessarily subjected to arrest because the laws between acceptable and unacceptable behavior for other people are different. They spend their time dealing drugs as a source of income and getting others addicted to them.
Hater-This refers to someone who dislikes the object of their hatred. They may hate a particular group of people because they feel better than those around them.
Because hatred is so powerful, it can cause harm to the person who is being hated. Hate is often used as a weapon because it will cause people to act out based on the label that they have been given.
Homeless-The homeless people have no place to live and spend most of their time on the street. A lot of these people have not had the same types of opportunities in life.
Often, the homeless are put into a category with others who are not as fortunate as they are. Many people view them as deviant and will treat them with disrespect.
Hooker-A hooker is someone who is paid for sexual activity. They have done this type of work for a long time and they may enjoy it or not.
Because this is an act that others often disapprove of, hookers are often seen as deviant. Many people see them as bad people who cannot get better.
A bully -Bullies like to pick on other people in an attempt to put them down. They may feel superior to others and try to maintain that status by using bullying tactics.
Bullying can be a problem in high schools and other places where people tend to segregate themselves. They try to boost their image by putting others down, and they sometimes get violent.
Neo-Nazi-It is an individual who believes in the Nazi Party and the ideas that they have. They are against people who are different, and they will often commit crimes against them.
This type of hate crime is seen by law enforcement as more serious because it is often violent. Many Neo-Nazis are in groups that commit crimes against other races with our labeling system’s power.
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Parolee-A parolee has been released from prison and is still being monitored by the law. They can go back to prison if they are caught breaking the rules.
The reason that this label can be dangerous is because of what labeling theory states. If a person is seen as different from those around them, they will discriminate against them and act violently.
Pimp-This is someone who makes money by having sex workers. They are often abused and treated like they do not matter. They are viewed as a criminal and someone who is not going to change.
Prisoner-A prisoner is an individual who has been arrested, charged, and put behind bars. While in prison, they will be punished for their actions and will serve time due to what they have done.
Many people will feel that a prisoner does not deserve to be treated with respect. They have done something that has made them deviant in the eyes of others, and society will treat them like they do not matter.
Prostitute-A prostitute will have sexual activities with others for money. They are often seen as someone who is deviant. Their life choices may be different than what others expect.
Prostitutes and sex workers have been used as something of a joke in popular culture for many years. People laugh about their lifestyle choices and mock them.
Gangsta Rap Artist-A gangster has a reputation for being violent and will resort to violence to resolve conflict.
Gangsta rap artists are people who sing songs that talk about crime and violence. They have been criticized for glorifying some of the things that have made the people in these types of groups so bad.
Terrorist-A terrorist has been labeled as a threat to others. They will often use violence and other criminal activities to resolve their grievances with society.
Many people feel that a terrorist does not deserve to be treated with respect. They are seen as a threat and someone who is not going to change.
Serial Killer-A serial killer is an individual who kills more than three people over some time. This type of violent crime is something that people often feel afraid of. They do not know who a serial killer will hurt, and they may be living in the same city. This type of fear can help to unify a community.
Psychopath-This one has a mental disease, and they are often seen as being violent. They do not act like others would expect. While they may be mentally ill, people will often see them as a threat and not someone who will change.
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Kleptomaniac-Someone is labeled kleptomaniac if they have a compulsion to steal. They may not steal from the same stores every time, and they are not always caught. They spend a lot of their time thinking about stealing. They will often steal small items from stores simply because they can.
Cult Leader-Despite being controversial, a cult leader may have a very large following. They often will encourage their followers to do things that they would not normally do. Some cult leaders have their members commit very serious crimes. Many cults have been known to brainwash their followers and cause them a lot of harm.
Narcissist-A narcissist has a mental disease where they are overly concerned about themselves and their appearance. They believe that they are better than everyone else and think very highly of themselves. They often do not care about the concerns and problems of other people.
Anorexic-Someone who has anorexia is very concerned about their weight. They will often refuse to eat, even though their body is starving and losing a lot of weight.
Anorexia has been labeled an “invisible” illness because people often cannot tell that the person has this problem. They deny that they do, and it can be very hard for them to get help.
A stalker -It is an individual who often engages in following someone else. This can be an issue if they are aware of the other person and do not live nearby. A stalker becomes obsessed with another person and can cause them to want to spend a lot of time near that person or try to get closer.
A loner-This one is socially distant or withdrawn; commonly labeled as a loner. They do not spend time with other people and can often be seen as isolated. People often feel a lot of pity for lonely people, and it is not unusual to create a label that applies to anyone alone. They may spend a lot of time in their own space, and social groups aren’t their thing.
A slob-It refers tosomeone who is untidy and disorganized. Slobs do not care about the cleanliness of their space, and they may not have a job. A slob does not care about the way that they live. They do not make an effort to take care of the things in their space or clean up after themselves.
A geek– This one has very different interests from others. They are often seen as nerdy because they have strong interests in video games, computers, or science fiction.
A freak– Someone who is emotionally unstable is often labeled as a freak. Freaks behave in ways that are different from what others expect, and they may have unusual habits. This can make them very memorable and often causes people to feel afraid.
Body shamer-This is someone very concerned about the size and shape of the body. They will often be critical of their weight or other people’s weights and body types.
A prankster -It is someone who enjoys jokes and pranks. They often do not care about how funny it is. They want to perform it and see how people react.
They believe that a joke is funny if the person who does not like it gets upset or angry. They do not care about the feelings of other people and enjoy performing their jokes on them.
Smuggler-A smuggler is an individual who transports illegal items as a job. They are often paid to take things across borders without being stopped by the authorities.
They are aware of the rule against taking these items, and they often use many different tricks to keep from getting caught.
A Pedophile-This one is interested in children and shows sexual interest towards them. They may spend time in chat rooms and communities that are focused on children. Pedophiles often have a history of hurting or abusing children. They believe that children enjoy it and that they have a right to do those things.
A troll -This is someone who does or says something on the internet, usually a message board or a social media site, to upset others. They will often be cruel and insulting towards other people because they are very angry or enjoy seeing others upset.
Some people do this because they are bored and want to have fun, but others become addicted to their feelings when they make people upset.
A hermit-It refers to an individual who has chosen to live away from other people. They do not like to be around people, and they want to live a simple life. Hermits enjoy their company and don’t long for relationships with other people.
Thief -A thief is someone who steals other people’s belongings. They are aware that the things belong to someone else, and they take them without permission. Some thieves steal to satisfy their needs, while others steal for fun because they enjoy the thrill of stealing.
A jinx-Jinxes is believed to bring bad luck to others. Even though they may not mean to, but it happens anyway. A jinx causes bad things to happen, and if anyone gets close to them, they will have bad things happen. This may be because the jinx wants to scare them away or because they do not like being around people who have positive things happen.
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A Pervert-It is an individual who is attracted to people that they are not supposed to be. The victims could include children or adults that they work with or people they know. Perverts have these feelings when they know that it is wrong or feel that the other person would not want them to have these feelings.
Pyromaniac -This is someone who enjoys setting fires and watching them burn. They may want to set fire to items that they own to kill them. They also may want to set fire to other people’s items or vehicles.
Pyromaniacs enjoy the feeling that they get when they light fires and enjoy seeing how the people around them react. The fire is fun for them, and they may not feel that it is bad.
A beggar-It refers to an individualwho asks for money or other items from other people. Some people aren’t disabled or challenged in any way, but they love asking for help. Society labels them as beggars, and they have become used to doing this.
A lot of people feel uncomfortable when you beg them for money or food in the street. Beggars are often homeless people, and they use the money to buy food or drugs,
An alcoholic-This one has a drinking problem that causes them to drink too much. Excessive drinking will often lead alcoholics to do things they normally would not do if they were sober. A lot of people think that alcoholics cannot control their drinking, but many of them do. They can stop drinking when other people are watching them, but they cannot stop if they are just in the room. They have a strong urge to drink, and they can’t go past that feeling.
A misanthrope-It is an individual who hates other people. The hatred will often cause misanthropes to avoid social situations, and they may not want to be around other people at all. Society labels misanthropes as insane or dangerous.
A vandal-This is someone who damages other people’s property because they want to upset them. Vandals do not have any feelings of guilt, and they will often try to harm the victim’s feelings by damaging their property.
A miser-It is an individual who refuses to spend money because they want to save it. A miser will often spend less money than other people do so they can save everything.
Misers spend a lot of time thinking about things they could be doing with their money, but many don’t enjoy spending money. They are happy to keep the money for themselves and do not want to give it to others.
An arsonist-This is someone who is deliberately starting fires. Arsonists act for their pleasure or to cause damage to other people’s property. They enjoy risk-taking, and they will mostly target property belonging to people that they don’t like. These people often lack empathy and do not care about other people around them.
Crook-This is a word that is used to describe someone dishonest. A crook will often steal from others or keep money safe instead of paying it back. A crook doesn’t care about people around them and will often lie to family members.
Self-identity– A person’s self-identity refers to their beliefs about who they are, including their behaviors, personality, and values.
Self-concept– It is the overall perception of ourselves. It consists of our beliefs about what we are like, including how we feel about our abilities and personality.
Labeling Theory examines the consequences of identifying people or labeling them in certain ways. The term “labeling” refers to attaching an emotional reaction or social meaning to someone, for example, racial slurs and stereotypes. Once this happens, they are then treated differently by society. This treatment can lead to increased hostility towards these individuals from those who believe themselves as not labeled with such negative words.
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