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Labeling theory is part of a social science paradigm that organizes theory and method known as symbolic interactionism. Symbolic interactionism offers microlevel, or individual, explanations of human motivation and behavior. Most scholars credit George Herbert Mead with the inception of the symbolic interactionist paradigm with his 1934 book Mind, Self, and Society. The principle components of Mead's version of symbolic interactionism include acts, gestures, symbols, the mind, and the self. The paradigm is concerned with how people communicate and how communication informs the sense of self and, ultimately, social relations in society. Mead's notion of the self and how it develops in regard to generalized others is of particular importance to labeling theory.

The concept of the self is formed through interaction with significant or meaningful ...

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