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Labelling theory focuses on the variety of symbolic labels that are given to people in their interactions with others. As demonstrated by this theory, labels are powerful, and the terms used to describe or classify people can significantly impact their lives.

For this assignment, you will present a research paper from the perspective of a labelling theorist.  To do so, you will select one of the following groups:  criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill persons, sex workers, or sex offenders (or you may choose one of your own but email me for approval) and address the following questions (please note, although your paper should address these questions, it is not limited to them):

  • How is this label created and perceived?  What role does society play (e.g., the media, government, politicians etc.)?
  • Is this label more likely to be applied to some individuals than others? In other words, is this label applied differently to people who engage in similar behaviours (i.e., differential reactions and/or treatment for similar behaviours)?
  • What are the implications and/or consequences of having this label?
  • What sort of stigma management does this group engage in?
  • Moving forward, what steps can be taken to improve the plight of people with this label?

The above questions are a guide and should help you in getting started.  However, once you start researching your group of interest, other areas can be explored as well.  Keep in mind that labelling theory is rooted in symbolic interactionism, social constructionism, and conflict theory, so these perspectives can also be incorporated throughout your paper.  This is your chance to demonstrate your comprehension of labelling theory by using it to guide a practical application.  Be creative. Have fun 😊

Your paper must: 

  • Be typed in Times New Roman, 12-font, double-spaced and with 1-inch margins and page numbers.
  • Use supportive evidence from your course readings, lecture notes, in-class videos AND a minimum of five (5) peer-reviewed academic sources.