What is Crime? Labeling Theory- Social Construction of Crime


Vernhis Mata

Labeling Theory- Social Construction of Crime

Deviance refers to the act, ideas, or other attributes such as the way people look that some people in society find offensive, evil, immoral, or sinful. So deviance is a socially disapproved behavior or violation of agreed norms in communities or society at large. But who decides what makes an act deviant? There are three steps that go about it. One some expectation is expected & held. Two there must be a violation of the norm, & thirdly society’s reaction to the deviance makes it deviant.

In regards to crime how do we know when something is a crime? Should we make it a crime to jump on the train without paying thus the person is committing a deviance? What if it wasn’t a crime to get in the train without paying then that person would not be deviant anymore which leads to the labeling theory. This means that is not the act that is deviant but it is society’s reaction to the act that makes it deviant. What is good or bad is in the eyes of who sees it. Take for example 911 it the most terrible thing that could have happened to NYC. We see terrorist as deviant but who knows maybe to people who are part of their organization sees us as deviant.  Maybe to Bin Ladens groups these terrorist that day were fighting for an idea and thus doing what was correct for them. So even though murder is really wrong in my opinion they probably thought it was okay to do what they did.

Once labeled it is really hard to get rid of the label. Take for example rapist, drug dealers, killers even when they do their time people would never look at them in the same way. But there are always ways to resist labeling although not totally, power is one of them. Clinton was able to resist it even when he was under oath. The country was running on a surplus like never before he had power &  people liked him and didn’t care if he lied or not. His act was not deviant just because society’s reaction didn’t make it deviant.

Not everyone is labeled the same take for example the teacher from the book who seduced the young boy. After being caught with a boy whom she married and then 10 years later arrested for another boy she still wasn’t fired, instead she was given an early retirement. It would have been a whole different case if it would have been a man seducing a young girl. In all, crime is what most of the time people with power decide that is wrong, other times is due to morality cause we can all agree across the board that murder is a crime. So acts are only deviant when labeled by society in that way & from the reaction it forms.

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2 Responses to What is Crime? Labeling Theory- Social Construction of Crime

  1. yan.ni says:

    We all human therefore we always think whatever we see as wrong , everyone should see as we do. And the it’s why I am 95% agree with this article. But the reason I do not agree 100% it’s because the example the writer used of 911, I do not see it a controversy of culture or religion. I do not mean to offend anyone , but sending approximated 4000 human being to the world of dead, in my eyes and anyone else , they are INSANE !!.

    Hence, like the article say, what we see as deviant, other people see it as normal behavior. Like polygamy, in New York we see this kind of man as deviant, but in some part of Alaska we completely normal to have more than one wife. So here is a question. Why are we cannot comprehend that all cultures have different believed, and we should respect that. Of course without including killing and many more.

    We see people as deviance, we label them ,label the sometime it’s stack with that person forever. For instance, what have happen on 911, many people believed that it was a cause by Arab more specific Muslims And after the horror day and on many people have label every Muslims as terrorists. A good Muslims friend of mine who have being suffer because of it. Furthermore, the act of deviance or labeling someone its behavior of human kind the would be almost impossible to overcome.

  2. omar.athar says:

    Take in account, years ago; alcohol was banned in America, which is known as the period of Prohibition. How is it that in those times alcohol consumption, production, and resale was determined to be deviant, but as society moved on, this act was removed and now anyone can sell, produce and drink above the age of 21, with no problem at all. How can a society run if there are amendments that change the way people “need” to behave or act? The person that was deemed a criminal for consuming, producing or selling alcohol in the 1920’s should be labeled as a criminal now as well.

    When at war, individuals are given the right to kill another human being because of a government-sanctioned license to kill. How is taking a person’s life, with any right of freedom, correct? How is it fair that a person can kill on the battlefield for “its people and country,” but if a person kills for revenge or other reasons it is considered deviant? I believe that if an act of “deviance” in society is banned or outlawed, it should not be promoted because of government sanctions. Why aren’t these people labeled as killers in society? Why do they have a free pass to kill another individual and not be held accountable? After all, it is basically a person on the other end of the line giving you the order to do so and assuring you it’s okay; what makes them different? Killing is killing, no matter the difference; at the end, a life is lost.

    At times during the gold rush of America, many Chinese immigrants were addicted to the use of opium. At the time it was not illegal to possess and import until the United States government saw the connection of opium to Chinese gangs and the addiction to this drug.

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