Labeling theory

 

Labeling theory
Needs to be about 12 sentences. Needs to reference the source that is attached. Listen to the NPR program linked

http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=385 (Act 1 Pyscho Dabble), How does it support and/or refute labeling theory? (It can support some

points of labeling theory while refuting others.) some background on topic is: In this section, you’ll probably observe that not all labels are created

equally. Individuals and groups have varying degrees of social power and resources to resist labeling; similarly, other groups have more power and

authority to label someone and have that label broadly accepted. In addition, interpersonal relationships and social distance affect the likelihood of a

person’s deviant behavior being defined as mental illness. I outline some principles below. (See also the assigned reading by Tausig.)

Family members are more likely to normalize the deviant behavior of another family member. This means that a brother, sister, mother, or father will try

to explain an unexpected or socially inappropriate behavior exhibited by another family member. For example, if a son were to start yelling and cursing

at his parents, the parents might forgive the behavior and remind themselves that their son has been under a lot of stress because of all the college

applications, testing, school work, and extracurricular activities he’s been involved with lately. The normalization of deviance within families is more

likely because

in general, family members are emotionally attached to one another and have a higher tolerance for untoward behaviors
these behaviors may occur over time, and thus may escape the notice of family members (for example, the parents come to think of their son as an angry

teenager)
most average family members do not have the skills and training to recognize diagnostic categories.
As David Mechanic (1989) has argued, family members are likely to continue normalizing deviant behavior until the deviant behavior:

is visible (so very clearly deviant that the behavior cannot be written off as normal any longer)
disrupts everyday functioning and life (causes the family to miss work, school, or family functions)
is frequent (begins to occur more often)
has crossed the tolerance threshold of family members (the family cannot endure the behavior any longer)
involves hallucinations or distorted perceptions of reality (for example, “autistic psychological processes” are so unusual that they cannot be

normalized).
It is at this point that the family members may turn to the medical community and psychiatric diagnostic categories to explain the behavior.

Nonfamily members (those with greater social distance from the person committing the deviant act) are less likely to normalize the behavior (and more

likely to identify the problem as mental illness). Similarly, when family members turn to outsiders for advice, these nonfamily members are more likely

to frame the behavior in psychiatric rubrics. Outsiders to a family are less likely to have emotional attachments to the person and have a lower

tolerance for that person’s deviant behavior. They are also more likely to measure a person’s behavior by general community standards of behavior.

Yelling at one’s parents is not socially acceptable, and if observers were to witness it, they might be able to dismiss the deviance once or twice

(thinking, for example, that the son is a bad kid). Ultimately, however, they are more likely to define the deviant behavior in terms of mental illness

(thinking that the kid has “anger issues” or has oppositional defiance disorder).

Social status affects the labeling process. People with higher education and women are more likely to self-label as having a psychological or

psychiatric problem.

 

WE ACCEPT