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Social Problems and Deviance

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Social Problems and Deviance

Outline and critically analyse Labelling theory and Merton’ strain theory.

Introduction: This paper will cover Strain theory and labelling theory . This will be done by an overview and explanation of the two theories, and by comparing and contrasting the theories based on the explanations of Robert Merton and Becker.
The question that inspired Robert Merton, “What was the cause and explanation of why delinquents commit delinquent acts.” Robert Merton created and dedicated his research on this question that later developed into his theory that he named Anomie Strain Theory. The labelling theory links deviance not to action but to the reaction of others. The labelling theory is used as a sociological theory of crime influential in challenging positivity criminology. The key people to this theory were Becker and Lemert.
While it was Lemert who introduced the key concepts of labelling theory, it was Howard Becker who become their champion. He first began describing the process of how a person adopts a deviant role in a study of dance musicians, with whom he once worked. He later studied the identity formation of marijunana smokers. This study was the basis of his Outsiders published in 1963. Labelling theory claims that deviance and conformity results not so much from what people do but from how others respond to the actions, it highlights social responses to crime and deviance. The foundations for this view of deviance are said to have to have been first established by Lement, (1951) and were subsequently developed by Becker, (1963). The labelling theory has subsequently become a dominant example in the explanation of deviance.The labelling theory is constituted by the assumption that deviant behaviour is to be seen not simply as the violation of a norm but as any behaviour which is successfully defined or labeled as deviant....

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