labeling theory


Labeling theory (or social reaction theory) is concerne with how the self-identity and behavior of an individual is influenced (or created) by how that individual is categorized and described by others in their society. Originating in sociology and criminology, the theory focuses on the linguistic tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from norms, and is associated with the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping. The theory was prominent in the 1960s and 1970s but is less so today, although a common usage rejects an unwanted descriptor or categorization (including terms related to deviance, disability or a diagnosis of mental illness) as being a label, often with attempts to adopt a more constructive language in its place.

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