Assess The Effect Of Labelling In Sociological Research

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‘Outsiders’ written by Howard Becker in 1963 highlights the effect of labelling within society and the influence it has on those who are labelled. He was the first sociologist to research this which paved the way for other studies which built upon his work. His work took a deterministic standpoint which has been criticized by opposing studies which I will expand on throughout. His definition of deviance ‘the infraction of some agreed-upon rule’ (Becker 1963) has allowed the expansion of further sociological studies on labelling and deviance. In this essay, I will define labelling and look further at Becker’s work, amongst other sociologists who have conducted research on this topic such as Lemert. I will also look at other case studies in which…show more content…
The Crime Survey for England and Wales which is undertaken annually is the greatest survey of it’s kind which collects data regarding every form of crime within the UK. Different organisations may have different aims in collecting data and this should always be taken into account when evaluating this form of research. Labelling can have a large effect on the meaning of statistics as previously stated labels can change as the definition of crime changes, the example of delegalizing smoking drastically changing the portion of the population who are classified as criminal. To be considered when looking at crime statistics is who correlates these figures. From a Marxist standpoint, the proletariat are the group within society who commit crime in large numbers and this would be reflected in the crime statistics as they are often labelled as such by those in power by law enforcers. As the Bourgeoisie are the group collecting the relevant data, this could have an effect on the types of crime that are recorded, and they may not include certain crimes such as white collar crime so this would affect the validity of crime statistics. Labelling can also change the groups who appear to commit crime. Ethnic groups such as black and Asian groups are more likely to be stopped and searched than white groups, meaning this would be shown as an increase in crime statistics however it has been found that ethnic minorities are more likely to be involved in crime (Ministry of Justice 2013). This is often followed through the criminal justice system up until the point that court cases may be thrown out as the only evidence that an individual from an ethnic minority would commit crime is the label that has wrongly been attached to them. Institutional Racism within the police may also go hand in hand with labelling as these labels may back up ideas that the police may have about certain

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