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Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the View That Crime and Deviance Are the Product of Labeling Processes.

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Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess the view that crime and deviance are the product of labeling processes.

Labelling theorists are interested in how and why certain acts come to be defined or labelled as criminal in the first place. They argue that no act is inherently criminal or deviant in itself. In other words, it is not the nature of the act that makes it deviant but the nature of society’s reaction to the act.

For a sociologist such as Becker, a deviant is simply someone to whom the label has been successfully applied, and deviant behavior is simply behavior that people label. This leads labelling theorists to look at how and why laws are made. They are particularly interested the role that Becker calls moral entrepreneurs. These are people who lead a moral crusade to change the law in the belief that it will benefit those whom is it applied. Becker then argues that this new law has two effects; it creates a new group of ‘outsiders’ and expands the social control agency to enforce the rule and impose labels on offenders.

Platt argues that the idea of ‘juvenile delinquency’ was originally created as a result of a campaign by upper class Victoria moral entrepreneurs, aimed at protecting young people at risk. This established ‘juveniles’ as a separate category of offender with their own courts, and it enabled the state to extent its powers beyond criminal offences involving the young, into so called ‘status offences’ such as truancy and sexual promiscuity.

Labelling theorists believe that not everyone gets labelled. Whether a person is labelled or not depends on factors such as the person’s appearance and background. Piliavin and Briar found that police decision to arrest a youth was mainly based on physical cues. Labelling theorists’ studies show that agencies are more likely to label certain groups of people as deviant or criminal.…...

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