societal reaction

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In the labelling theory of deviance, the societal reaction refers to the range of formal and informal agencies of social control—including the law, media, police, and family—which, through their responses towards the deviant, greatly affect deviance outcomes. For Edwin Lemert (Social Pathology, 1951), far from control necessarily reducing deviance, it may actually generate, structure, or amplify deviance. See also deviance amplification; primary and secondary deviation.

Subjects: Sociology.

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