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Social Reaction Theory

Labeling Theory, Social-construction, Symbolic-interaction

Social reaction theory or labeling theory focuses on the linguistic tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from norms.

Social reaction theory or labeling theory is concerned with how the self-identity and behavior of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them, and is associated with the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping.

Lemert, a social reaction theorist, was as the founder of the "societal reaction" approach.

Briefly, this approach distinguishes between primary deviance (where individuals do not see themselves a deviant) and secondary deviance (which involves acceptance of a deviant status).

Primary deviance arises for a wide variety of reasons, biological, psychological, and/or sociological.

Secondary, or intensified deviance becomes a means of defense, attack, or adaptation to the problems caused by social reaction to primary deviation.

Social reaction theorists claim that the process of defining and suppressing deviance is important to social solidarity.