Labeling Theory Essay

1212 words - 5 pages

I agree with the premise of the labeling theory, that there is no human act inherently evil and deviant in them selves. Inherent evil or deviance does not exist because of the following reasons. First, the social norms from which the act is based changes with the times. What may be acceptable now may not be acceptable in the future or vice versa. Second, every culture has a different set of norms. What may be acceptable here may not be acceptable somewhere else. Third, not all wrong acts are considered deviant. People set Norms. In the event that an act is not perceived as deviant, even if it may cause actual injury to others, it would still be considered normal behavior. Last, there are ...view middle of the document...

In the case of drug addicts, alcoholics, and people with mental illness, their situation was changed from being viewed as deviants to simply ill people. Their infirmities are now attributed to illnesses, which can be medically cured rather than seen as deviant behavior, which should be punished. Even the Catholic Church, an institution that is looked up to as a basis for morality, ethics, and spirituality, has changed its norms during the medieval times, the Church required people to pay Church tax. It also required people to be buried in holy ground. Failure to do so would deny the persons entry to heaven and ensure the burning of their souls in hell after death. The Church, however, no longer practices this.
Another point that should be raised in connection with this argument is the fact that people resort to processes to liberate themselves from being labeled as deviant. Movements are made and protests are resorted to when people who are labeled as deviants feel that their rights are being violated or feel that they are being oppressed. A classic example of this is the gay movement. The gay movement resulted to the removal of the classification by the American Psychiatric Association of homosexuality as sexual deviance This further strengthens the premise of the labeling theory because it shows the relativity and flexibility of social norms from which deviance is determined.
Another argument that should be considered is the fact that norms vary from culture to culture. Every culture has its own set of norms. An act may be acceptable in some places but unacceptable in others. This means that an act can be done in one place and be considered normal behavior in that place, and can be committed in another place and be perceived as deviant behavior in that place. Some concrete examples are; the smoking of marijuana is illegal in most places. However, in Amsterdam, the use of marijuana is not illegal. Another example is chewing gum. This is allowed almost everywhere, but in Singapore the chewing of gum is an offense that is punishable by a fine. Most cultures do not allow bigamous and same sex marriages. Some religions and countries allow such marriages. This strengthens the premise of the labeling theory because it shows that an act can be deviant in one place and acceptable in another. This goes to show that it is not in the nature of inherent evil or deviant because if it is in the nature of such, it should be perceived as evil or deviant wherever it is committed.
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