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In sociology, labeling theory is the view of deviance according to which being labeled as a "deviant" leads a person to engage in deviant behavior. Originating in Howard Becker's work in the 1960s, labeling theory explains why people's behavior clashes with social norms. For example, a teenager who lives in an urban area frequented by gangs might be labeled as a gang member. Accordingly, the teenager might begin to behave like a gang member or become one. Sometimes the person labeled incorporates the label into that person's self-concept (as when a teenager labeled as a gang member begins to think of himself or herself as a gang member). Some researchers believe people of lower social status are more likely to be labeled deviant.


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Lesson on Labeling Theory

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1:00
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Piaget and Cognitive Development
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tutorial
Basic vs Applied Research
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Impression formation

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