labelling theory

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

The hypothesis, which originated in sociology in the 1950s, that the social attribution of deviant identities to individuals or groups is a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to the amplification of deviance. Within this theory, deviance is regarded as a social construction (see alsoconstructionism) rather than as an objective property of behaviour deriving from individual psychology or genetic inheritance. Some distinguish primary deviance—a violation of norms prior to labelling—from secondary deviance. Labelling theory is closely associated with symbolic interactionism.

Subjects: Sociology.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.