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Flashcards in Interactionism and Labelling Theory Deck (46)
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What are labelling theorists interested in?

How and why certain acts come to be defined or labelled as criminal in the first place.


According to labelling theorists, what makes an act deviant?

Its not the nature of the act that makes it deviant, but the nature of society's reaction to the act.


Define moral entrepreneurs.

People who lead a moral 'crusade' to change the law.


According to Becker, what are two effects of a new law?

- The creation of a new group of 'outsiders': outlaws or deviants who break the new rule.

- The creation or expansion of a social control agency (such as police, courts, probation officers etc) to enforce the rule and impose labels on offenders.


Briefly describe one example of the creation and impact of a new law.

Platt: 'Juvenile delinquency' - created as result of campaign by upper-class Victorian entrepreneurs, to protect young people at risk.
- Enabled state to extend powers beyond criminal offenses involving young, into so-called 'status offenses' (where behaviour is only an offense bc of age)
- E.g: truancy + sexual promiscuity


Briefly outline the factors that determine whether a person is arrested, charged and convicted.

- Their interaction with agencies of social control
- Their appearance, background and personal biography.
- The situation and circumstances of the offense.


According to Pilkiavin and Briar, what affects police decisions to arrest a youth?

- Mainly based on physical cues (e.g manner + dress)
- Gender, class and ethnicity
- Time and place
- E.g those stopped late at night in high crime areas ran a greater risk of arrest.


Briefly explain what Cicourel means by typifications.

Officers common sense theories or stereotypes of what the typical delinquent is led them to concentrate on certain 'types'.


Why do officers' typifications result in a class bias?

- People in w/c areas fit typification's more accurately.

- Led to police patrolling w/c areas more intensively, resulting in more arrests + confirming their stereotypes.


Give an example of how bias is reinforced by other agents of social control.

- Probation officers held commonsense theory that juvenile delinquency was caused by broken homes, poverty + lax parenting.
- Tended to see youths from such backgrounds as likely to offend and were likely to support non-custodial sentences for them.


Briefly explain why Cicourel claims that justice is negotiated.

- When a m/c youth was arrested, he was less likely to be charged as he didn't fit police's 'typical delinquent'.

- Also parents were more likely to negotiate successfully on his behalf, convincing control agencies he was sorry, they would monitor him + ensure he stays out of trouble.

- Result: 'counselled, warned and released' rather than prosecuted.


According to Cicourel, why should we use official crime statistics as a topic rather than as a resource?

- They don't give us a valid picture of crime patterns and cannot be used as a resource. Therefore, they should be treated as topics.

- We shouldn't take crime stats at face value; instead, we should investigate processes that created them.

- This will shed light on activities of control agencies and how they process + label certain types of people as criminal.


Briefly explain why interactionists see official crime statistics as socially constructed.

- At each stage of the criminal justice system, agents of social control make decisions about whether or not to proceed to the next stage.

- Outcome depends on label attached to individual suspect or defendant in the course of their interactions.

- Labels affected by typification's or stereotypes.


Explain what is meant by the dark figure of crime.

The difference between the official statistics and the 'real ' rate of crime. We don't know for certain how much crime goes undetected, unreported and unrecorded.


Which other two types of statistics do sociologists use to study crime?

Victim surveys: where they're asked what crimes they've been victim of.

Self-report studies: Where they're asked what crimes they have committed.


What does Lemert mean by a primary deviance?

Deviant acts that haven't been publicly labelled.


Briefly explain what is meant by 'master status'.

- Once an individual is labelled, others may come to see him only in terms of the label. This becomes his master status or controlling identity, overriding all others.

- In the eyes of the world, he's no longer a colleague, father or neighbour; he's now a thief, junkie or pedophile - an outsider.


Briefly explain what is meant by 'self-concept'.

The individual's belief about himself or herself, including the person's attributes and who and what the self is.


Briefly explain what is meant by 'self-fulfilling prophecy'.

The individual acts out or lives up to their deviant label, thereby becoming what the label says they are.


Briefly explain what is meant by 'secondary deviance'.

Lemert refers to the further deviance that results from acting out the label given as secondary deviance.


Briefly explain what is meant by 'deviant career'.

Example: the ex-convict finds it hard to go straight because no one will employ him, so he seeks out other outsiders for support and gains a deviant career.


Briefly explain what is meant by 'deviant subculture'.

A subculture which has norms and values that differ from the majority of people in a society.
- Offers deviant career opportunities and role models and rewards deviant behaviour.


Briefly explain what is meant by 'control culture'.

Control culture is essentially the police and other similar institutions. They persecuted and labelled hippies and made them view themselves as outsiders.


Briefly explain the deviance amplification spiral. Use Cohen's example to help you.

Term labelling theorists use to describe a process in which the attempt to control deviance leads to an increase in the level of deviance. Leads to greater attempts to control it. More and more control produces more and more deviance.

S. Cohen: Folk Devils and Moral Panics - Mods and Rockers.
- Press exaggeration + distorted reporting created moral panic.
- Moral entrepreneurs calling for 'crackdown'.
- Police responded by arresting youths.
- Courts imposed harsher penalties.
- Confirmed media reaction + provoked more public concern in upward spiral of deviance amplification.


Why can folk devils be thought of as the opposite of the dark figure of crime?

Dark figure is about unlabelled, unrecorded crime ignored by public and police. Conversely, folk devils and their actions are 'over-labelled' and over-exposed to public view and authorities.


According to Triplett, how have attempts to control and punish young offenders had the opposite effect?

In the USA, there's an increasing tendency to see young offenders as evil and less tolerant of minor deviance.


Why is labelling theory important when considering criminal justice policy? Give an example.

Adds weight to the argument that negative labelling pushes offenders towards a deviant career. To reduces deviance: make and enforce fewer rules to break.

For example, by decriminalising soft drugs, number of people with criminal convictions may be reduced and hence the risk of seondary deviance.


Define Braithwaite's two types of shaming.

- Disintegrative shaming: where not only the crime, but also the criminal, is labelled as bad and the offender is excluded from society.

- Reintegrative shaming: by contrast, labels the act but not the actor - as if to say 'he's done a bad thing' rather than 'he's a bad person'.


According to Braithwaite, which of his two types of shaming leads to lower crime rates and why?

Crime rates tend to be lower in societies where reintegrative shaming is the dominant way of dealing with offenders as it:
- Avoids stigmatising offender as evil while making them aware of negative impact of their actions + encourages others to forgive them.
- Avoids pushing them into secondary deviance.


Why did Durkheim study suicide?

He aimed to show that sociology is a science.