Labeling Theory Originating in Sociology Essay

Pages: 5 (1603 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sociology

" Precisely because a child is labeled a delinquent, the label "transforms the offender's identity from a doer of evil to an evil person" (Tannenbaum, 1938, pg. 37). In essence, then, social labeling theory suggests that juveniles, having been labeled a "delinquent" begin to believe not only that they are people who do bad things, but that by labeling, such children are transformed into believing they are bad people. Bench and Allen (2003) suggest that younger inmates have higher rates of disciplinary infractions than older offenders. Consequently, labeling theory would explain the incidental increase in gang activity given the relatively few opportunities for inner-city youth to achieve a measure of success. Likewise, gang leaders getting out of prison yearly for good behavior might also be explained by labeling theory given the desire to reunite with one's peers outside of the prison setting.

Clearly, the theory of labeling is marred in that it is difficult to discern not only it's applicability to delinquency, but is difficult to measure empirically. As a theory, of course, it is relevant to consider labeling as a social construct. However, the processes of delinquency causation, and of the processes involved in mitigating the effects of delinquency are likely multi-causal and should warrant further investigation by sociologists and criminologists.


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Akers, R.L., Sellers, C.S. (2004). Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Application, 4th Edition. Roxbury Publishing Company, Los Angeles, California.

Becker, H. Outsiders. 1963 (1997). New York, NY: Free Press.

Bench, L.L. And Allen, T.D. (2003). Investigating the Stigma of Prison Classification: An Experimental Design. Prison Journal, 83, 4, 367-382.

Durkheim, Emile (1897) [1951]. Suicide: a study in sociology. The Free Press.

Mead, G.H. (1934). Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Merton, R. (1949). Social Theory and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Labeling Theory Originating in Sociology" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Labeling Theory Originating in Sociology.  (2011, February 16).  Retrieved April 6, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Labeling Theory Originating in Sociology."  16 February 2011.  Web.  6 April 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Labeling Theory Originating in Sociology."  February 16, 2011.  Accessed April 6, 2020.