Link to What's New This Week CRMJ/SOCA 233: Criminology

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Created: June 22, 2003
Latest Update: October 30, 2003

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Site Teaching Modules CRMJ/SOCA 233 Criminology:
Week 11 Labeling Theory
You will be held accountable for purposes of grading for the readings and exercises listed here. There will be no "testing." That means that you will not have to live in anxious anticipation of what we will ask and how much you will have to know. Instead, we will provide weekly discussion questions, lectures, essays, and concepts we feel that you should know as a result of having taken this course. You will assure us of that learning and receive your grade for the questions and concepts about which you choose to write and talk with us. In addition, you will find detailed explanations and examples on our grading policies in the first week's reading.

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Week 11: Week of November 9, 2003

  • Topic:Labeling Theory

  • Preparatory Readings:

  • Lecture: in class

  • Concepts:

    • social interaction
    • symbolic interactionism
    • societal reaction
    • definition of the situation
    • stigma
    • primary deviation and secondary deviation

  • Discussion Questions:

    1. What is symbolic interactionism and how does this affect labeling theory?

    2. Does criminal behavior have to occur for a person to be labeled "criminal"? Why.

    3. What is the difference between primary and secondary deviation?

    4. What does Pollock have to say about labeling theory? Do you agree with her critique? Why.

    5. Compare and contrast social strain theory (Durkheim and Merton) with labeling theory (Becker and Lemert).

  • Past Lectures and Related Links:

      Theory Resources Page

      Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

  • Some Recommended Activities:

    1. Show and Tell: Bring in a current event or find a program (other than those mentioned in the readings or lectures) showing how labeling theory informs policy and practice.

    2. Explore one of these topics:
      --- Trace the development of the term, "racial profiling."
      --- Examine the consequences of labels such as "ex con", "ex addict," and so forth. Why do these labels have a stigmatizing effect?
      --- How does the sex offender community notification laws relate to labeling theory? Why.

    3. Recommended Readings

      Howard Becker. Outsiders.

      Edwin Lemert. Human Deviance, Social Problems and Social Control.

      Martha Minow. Making all the Difference: Inclusion and Exclusion in American Law.

      Kenneth Meeks. Driving While Black .

    4. A Creative Project with CSUDH students! Check out Visual Essays Project. If interested, let me know.

    Now, check the Minimum Requirements for Criminology, Week 9, 10, and 11.

    Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, June 2003.
    "Fair use" encouraged.