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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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Piaget and Cognitive Development
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Basic vs Applied Research
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Impression formation

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In social sciences there are many key concepts and terms that are crucial for students to know and understand. Often it can be hard to determine what the most important social sciences concepts and terms are, and even once you’ve identified them you still need to understand what they mean. To help you learn and understand key social sciences terms and concepts, we’ve identified some of the most important ones and provided detailed definitions for them, written and compiled by Chegg experts.

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