Find your subject
in our database of
Spark your creativity...
an impressive essay!
Deviant behaviour has sadly been a ongoing occurrence in society throughout history, more noticeably in life today. Sociologists have been provoked to study and form theories in order to try and explain why social phenomena such as suicide, prostitution and drug use occur in our society. The Interactionist Perspective (known to many as the Labelling Theory) is interested in social processes and examines deviant behaviour using such methods as social typing. The Labelling theory focuses how an individual is made deviant, instead of focusing on deviant acts. The Interactionists emphasise the role that meanings play in the creation of deviant behaviour and gain a greater understanding of what it means to commit actions that others label as deviant.
In order to discuss how the Interactionist theory can be used to explain deviance, it is necessary to understand the historical development and approach of this theory.
The Interactionists firstly believe that there are no behaviours that are intrinsically deviant. Secondly, Deviant actions are simply those which are defined as deviant within a certain culture or setting. Therefore Interactionists focus on social processes by which certain behaviours become known as deviant and the consequences for those who are labelled deviant. (Aggleton, 1987, chpt 4)
The Interactionist approach was at its height during the 1960's and 1970's, shedding a whole new, fresh perspective on the study of deviance. Here in Australia research on deviance was basically Functionalist and Positivist, Until 1970 when more critical approaches, like the Interactionist perspective began to appear. (Sargent, Nillan & Winter, 1997, pg 387)
Interestingly the origins of the Interactionist approach go back as far as 18th century Philosophers, arguing with Positivist's about how to best explain social behaviour. In 1938, professor, Frank Tannenbaum first observed the actual reactions to certain behaviours, rather than on behaviours themselves. Furthermore, there were a number of sociologists around the 1930's whom more formally commenced what is known today as the 'Interactionist perspective of Deviance'. Charles Cooley and the 'looking Glass Self', William Thomas and the 'Definition of the situation', George Herbert Mead and the 'Development of the self.' (Aggleton, 1987, chpt 4)
Charles Cooley and his 'looking Glass self' notes how people tend to think they appear to others and the judgements these people may make on us. This concept is very important in how we, ourselves, tend to act in certain situations and how we see ourselves.(Pontell, 1999, pg 50) Therefore People who perceive that others think they display so called 'deviant behaviour' will live up to this judgement and continue to behave in this way in the future.
William Thomas and his 'Definition of the situation' is a continuation of Charles Cooley's study. Thomas argues that Situations defined as real become real in the deviant's consequences. In 1923, Thomas conducted a study of a young woman who turned to Prostitution; she concluded that this was the only way she could financially provide for herself. (Aggleton, 1987, pg 51) "This suggests that the perceived judgements of others have a powerful role to play in confirming self-identities and the behaviour that can follow from these." (Aggleton, 1987, pg 51)
George Herbert Mead and his 'Development of the self' is responsible for a number of concepts which provide the foundations of what the Interactionist Theory is about. Mead focused primarily on the way in which we as humans interpret the world we live in through the use of symbols, images, sounds, smells, etc. "By interacting symbolically with significant others (people close to us), we learn to 'role-take', taking on board first of all, the roles of significant others towards us, but eventually the more general expectations of society at large." (Aggleton, 1987, pg 53)
In the 1960's, sociologists such as Herbert Blumer, Erving Goffman and Howard Becker went on to develop further the ideas and theories the earlier Interactionist
Herbert Blummer, a student of George Herbert Mead, continued to study the concept of 'Interpretation'. The notion of 'interpretation' became fundamental to the Interactionist approach, Blummer arguing that 'acts only become deviant once they have been interpreted by others as such.' (Aggleton, 1987, pg 53)
Erving Goffman brought about vital research concerning the idea of 'social identity', which distinguishes "Personal qualities that remain constant across different situations' (Aggleton, 1987, pg 65) Goffman also looked at the reaction of others towards us, especially negative judgements that others make. According to Goffman, this causes 'damaged or 'spoiled' identities being forced upon people. He names this process Stigmatisation.
Howard Becker was responsible for two vital processes in the Interactionist analy
Quotes talked about in this paper
Names mentioned in this research paper
Aggleton, Howard Becker, Traub, Charles Cooley, settings."(Goode, Frank Tannenbaum, Erving Goffman, George Herbert Mead, William Thomas, pg 64, Eric Butchart, Herbert Blummer, Aaron Cicourel, Herbert Blumer, Saudia Arabia, Edwin Lemert, Pontell, Anleu, their understandings, accepted."(Goode, majority."(Goode,
Locations included in this research material
Keywords talked about in this research material
deviant, deviant behaviour, Interactionist, social, interactionist perspective, theory, society, George Herbert Mead, Charles Cooley, labelling, significant others, behaviours, social phenomena, self, labelling theory, young woman, criminal offence, Goffman, social behaviour, social deviance, individual, Positivist, certain situations, Erving Goffman, marijuana, moral, This woman, societies, Glass, Herbert Blumer, Frank Tannenbaum, entrepreneurs, drug, Saudia Arabia, social control, self conscious, Aaron Cicourel, complete theory, right and wrong, Juvenile delinquency, self image, northern india, critical variable, Secondly, drug addiction, chpt, image, group, prophesy, delinquent,