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Labeling Theory And Its Media I Nfluences

1120 words - 5 pages

Labelling theory is how an individual’s behaviour and self-identity maybe determined or influenced by the labels used to classify them. The concepts of the self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping can be associated with this theory. This theory focuses on the tendency to label negatively, minority groups or those that are perceived as deviant from cultural norms. Developed in the 1950s and 1960s by sociologists, with Howard Beckers book in 1963, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance being influential in the development of this theory as its used today. Henslin (232) states that symbolic interactionists as having developed labelling theory, which focuses on the significance of ...view middle of the document...

Refugees are not considered deviant but The Tamper Affair in August 2001 and Children overboard (October 2001) saw the change of labels used to describe those who arrive via boat in Australia. Labels such as illegal immigrants, boat people, queue jumpers, and possible terrorist all become common labels used by both the media and some politicians. Sydney morning Herald reporter Bianca Hall (2013) reported that the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has instructed departmental and detention centre staff to publicly refer to asylum seekers as ‘‘illegal’’ arrivals and as ‘‘detainees’’, rather than as clients. The use of these labels have helped to stir up fear within the Australian public therefore causing distrust towards boat people (asylum seekers). The conception that some could possibly be terrorists therefore putting Australia at risk of attack works on the public fear and adding to the belief those on the boats are deviant. The use of the words illegal immigrants also help change the perception of Australians that these people arriving by boat are not genuine refugees therefore mandatory detention is justified. As O’Doherty and Lecouteur suggested the continued use in print media might lead to the acceptance of such labels therefore legitimising such behaviour as detention for these people for their perceived deviant behaviour.
In 1996 Prime Minister Paul Keating during his ill-fated 1996 election campaign epitomised the “dole bludger” tag by telling a protestor to “GET a job”. (the punch) Unemployed, single mothers, disability pensioners are not necessarily deviant labels yet they often evoke labels such as dole bludgers and welfare cheats which turns accepted labels into those associated with deviant behaviour. Such negative stereotyping is reinforced by such reports in television current-affair programs as the Channel Nine's A Current Affair (2012) a search for “Australia’s Handout Hotspots.” “It's Australia's worst welfare suburbs. We reveal which communities have the highest Centrelink handouts and what is the dole-bludging capital of Australia appears on their website. The deviants that supposedly living in these suburbs, deserving of these labels, are single mothers, teenage girls who get pregnant just for welfare “handouts” and the unemployed. Welfare recipients supposedly indulge in such “deviant” behaviours as drinking, smoking, drug taking, and gambling therefore deserving of labels such as dole bludgers and welfare...

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