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labelling Theory

             There are many views regarding human deviance, one of such is seemed by Howard S. Becker as an ‘outside’ behaviour. He shared the same view of deviance with a group of humanistic sociologists such as John Kitsuse and Kai Erikson. Deviance was interpreted as a labelling theory or should have referred as symbolic interaction theory (which was known generally to analyze the social psychology of human behaviour) Becker’s interpretation of deviance is as an ‘outsider’, who does not conform to the conventionalist norms . In order to view the labelling theory in closer detail; we shall examine the symbolic interaction theory. The theory’s belief is that human being has feeling, conscious, thinking, and is a reflective subject, thus human behaviour is not a static entity but rather a dynamic action that occurs in the fluid and ever-changing context of social interaction. An example, when people interact with one another, they ascribe certain meanings to one another’s acts, in which they can rely on those meanings to react toward one another in the future. Consequently, one’s action will lead to another’s future behaviour . Following from that, Blumer stated that ‘symbolic interaction involves interpretation, or ascertaining the meaning of the actions or remarks of the other person, and definition, or conveying indications to another person as to how he is to act. ’This shows the meaning that people attach to an act is much more important than the act itself. Apart from that, Deviant according to Becker is a collective action, involving more than one person’s act, hence the view should not be focused on the deviant person alone but rather the interaction between the supposed deviant and the conformists . For this reason, labelling theorist such as Becker would ask the question of who applies the deviant label to whom? What consequences does the application of this label have for the person so labelled? And for the people who apply the label? Usually, Enforces of law and conventional moralist are the people that apply the deviant label to those who violates the law and morality.

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