Classical Labeling Theories of Crime & Deviance

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 00:10

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE: Hello.My name is Robert Donald Weide, and I'mthe professor of criminology in the Department of Sociologyhere at California State University, Los Angeles.In this presentation, I'll be discussingthe classical labeling theory of crime and delinquency.I'll be covering the following classical theoristsand their work in the development of labeling theory.First, I'll be discussing Frank Tannenbaum's conception

    • 00:32

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: of the dramatization of evil and the rolethat the community plays in perpetuatingcrime and deviance.Next, I'll be discussing Edwin Lemert's conceptionsof primary and secondary deviance.Finally, I'll be discussing Howard Becker's labeling theoryof crime and deviance, including deviant careerists, labeling,master status, and moral entrepreneurs.

    • 00:56

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: It's important to understand the classical proponentsof labeling theory in order to understandhow labeling undesirable behavior as criminal or deviantcan, in fact, reinforce that behaviorrather than abate that behavior.First, let's discuss Frank Tannenbaum.Frank Tannenbaum offered the first conception

    • 01:18

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: of what would eventually be come to known as labeling theory.According to Tannenbaum, as young people commitdeviant acts, public perception begins to define,not only their behavior, but moreover,their personal character as inherently deviant.However, dramatizing the evil has the opposite effectintended in that it tends to reinforce

    • 01:39

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: their deviant behavior rather than abate it,further entrenching the deviant in a deviant lifestyle.The juvenile gang, therefore, is a refugefor those young people who have been labeled deviantby conventional members of their community.The solution, therefore, is not to dramatize the evil,but rather to emphasize desirable behaviors instead

    • 01:60

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: of focusing on deviant behavior in young people.Next, I'll be discussing Edwin Lemert.Following Tannenbaum, Edwin Lemert furtherrefines labeling theory with his inventionof primary and secondary deviance categories.

    • 02:21

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: According to Lemert, for most people in society,minor deviant behaviors are routinely ignored or toleratedso long as they occur irregularly and are not partof a deviant role in society.Lemert calls this primary deviance.However, where deviant behavior becomes regularor severe enough to garner societal condemnation,

    • 02:42

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: the individual is assigned a deviant label, and as a result,the individual comes to embrace a deviant lifestyleand corresponding role in society.Lemert calls this secondary deviance.According to Lemert, there is no precise triggerfor the transition from primary deviance to secondary deviance.

    • 03:02

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: Rather, this transition occurs graduallyas deviant behavior increases in both regularity and severity.Therefore, the transition to secondary deviancecan occur at different points in the deviant careersof different individuals.Finally, let's discuss Howard Becker.

    • 03:25

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: Following Tannenbaum and Lemert, Howard Beckerestablished labeling theory in its modern formin his classic ethnography of marijuana users in the jazzmusic subculture.Becker argues that deviance is nota quality of any particular person, population,or behavior, rather, deviance is an impositionof the values of the dominant members of society

    • 03:46

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: on the subordinate members of society.Becker suggests that deviant careerists onlyprogress into a deviant status where deviant behavior hasbeen detected.Deviant behavior that has not been detected, therefore,cannot be labeled deviant.However, once deviant behavior has been detectedand the perpetrator labeled deviant,the deviant label acts as a master status that

    • 04:09

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: defines the deviant's life in every way, irrespectiveof any conventional behavior the deviant continues to engage in.Therefore, in order to survive after the impositionof a deviant master status, deviants band togetherin deviant subcultures where theycan help each other avoid the negative ramificationsof the deviant label that they all share.

    • 04:31

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: Deviant subcultures provide both practical techniquesand strategies for dealing with the negative ramificationsof a deviant master status and alsoprovide a safe haven of support and camaraderiefor deviants who have been labeled with a deviant label.Becker also discusses the role of moral entrepreneursin establishing new perceptions of deviance

    • 04:52

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: in the dominant society, thereby causing people, populations,and behaviors to be labeled deviant that were not perceivedas deviant prior to the moral campaignengaged in by moral entrepreneurs.Further reading in this area includesFrank Tannenbaum's classic book Crime and the Community,Edwin Lemert's classic book Human Deviance,

    • 05:15

      ROBERT DONALD WEIDE [continued]: Social Problems, and Social Control,and Howard Becker's classic ethnography Outsiders.

Classical Labeling Theories of Crime & Deviance

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Abstract

Professor Robert Weide discusses labeling theory and deviance in society. He traces the roots of labeling theory and explains its evolution from one theorist to another.

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Classical Labeling Theories of Crime & Deviance

Professor Robert Weide discusses labeling theory and deviance in society. He traces the roots of labeling theory and explains its evolution from one theorist to another.

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