Labeling Theory

According to labeling theory, group reactions are the key determinant to events later considered antisocial in nature. Labeling theory essentially asks why some acts are labeled deviant when others are not . This theory asserts that social group reactions serve to make certain behaviors deviant, regardless of the individual context in which they occur. This begs the question as to who creates the label associated with deviant behavior. The answer to this inquiry lies with those who hold the power within a given social structure. Some sociologists have asserted that the more powerful members of society create the standard for labels applied to individuals who are less socially prominent. From this perspective, this manuscript will serve to demonstrate the labeling processes involved in homosexual rape within prisons.

In order to understand labeling theory, one must also under- stand the underlying power structures within a given social order where the labeling process occurs. This is crucial because the powerful members of a society impose labels upon those who are less powerful . The label is determined by the standards of the affluent and upwardly mobile, with those at the lower echelons being nearly, though not entirely, powerless to “throw off the yoke” of the labeling process

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