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Primary & Secondary Deviance-Edwin Lemert 3/23/15

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Andrew Partridge

on 23 April 2015

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Transcript of Primary & Secondary Deviance-Edwin Lemert 3/23/15

Social Interactionist Theory (Primary & Secondary Deviance)-Edwin Lemert
By: Cassedy Rymer, Amari Williams, Andrew Partridge, & Larry Correa

Theoretical Development
Lemert's Views
Discussion Questions
Edwin Lemert created Primary and Secondary Deviance out of his bigger work, titled "Social Pathology", which was created in 1951. Primary and Secondary Deviance were the most popular theories out of the work. Lemert went into great detail in his later work in 1971 titled, "Human Deviance, Social Problems, and Social Control."

Primary Deviance and Secondary Deviance is an offshoot of labeling theory.

Lemert realized in cruder versions of labeling theory, people were portrayed as innocent victims driven into a life of crime by labels.

Lemert, however, believed crime and deviance were not a random occurrence in which the labeled person played no role.

Concluding Statements
This theory is about a child being called name or being so called labled by a teacher or someone of higher authority after they repeatedly cause class disruptions.

The more a child hears someones opinion of them, they decide to act out the label that's placed on them such as troublemakers, class clown, bad boy, mischief maker, etc.

Although they act this way as kids that doesn't mean that this is the way they are going be as adults

The most significant personality changes are manifest when societal definitions and their subjective counterparts become generalized.
This theory does not explain a reason for the initial criminal act or the origin of criminal behavior. It employs circular reasoning.
It only focuses on a limited range of behaviors.
Labelling theory doesn't seem to entertain the possibility that labeling can actually ‘work' in reforming deviant behavior.
Labeling theory tends to over-romanticize the “underdog” type of deviant behavior.

Lemert's View Continued
People break rules in all kinds of circumstances and for all kinds of reasons, such that Lemert thought sociology can't possibly develop any general theories about primary deviance.
When a negative label gets applied so publicly and so powerfully that it becomes part of that individual's identity, this is what Lemert calls secondary deviance.
These dramatic negative labellings become turning points in that individual's identity and they become what people label them; henceforth they employ their deviant behavior or a role based upon it as a means of defense, attack, or adjustment to the problems created from the societal reaction.
Having been processed by the juvenile justice system and labeled a delinquent, or harassed by the police as a gang member, the individual takes on that label as a key aspect of his/her identity.
The Theory
Lemert envisioned a process in which 1) individuals deviated, 2) individuals were sanctioned by others, 3) the individual makes choices that further embedded them in deviance, 4) individuals experienced more reactions from others, and 5) individuals eventually came to accept and act consistently with their public designation as "deviant".

Primary deviance- "polygenic, arising out of a variety of social, cultural, psychological, and physiological factor."
Secondary deviance- secondary deviance is considered the deviant behavior itself. Deviance is called "secondary" because the conduct is not generated by the original causes of primary deviance.
- If the deviant acts are repetitive and have a high visibility, and if there is a severe societal reaction, which, through a process of identification is incorporated as a part of the "me" of the individual, the probability is greatly increased that the integration of existing roles will be disrupted and that reorganization based upon a new role WILL occur.
Instead of focusing on the individual or the society, Lemert focused on the interaction between social control agents and rule violators. He also focused on how certain behaviors came to be labeled criminal, delinquent, or deviant. This was one of the most important theoretical constructs of the labeling perspective. It was also a distinct alternative to the social disorganization theory of Shaw and McKay, the differential association notion of Sutherland, and the social structural approach of Merton.

The original reasons for violating the norms of the community are important only for certain research purposes, such as assessing the extent of the “social problem” or determining the requirements of a rational program of social control.

Lemert states that the deviations are not significant until they are subjectively organized and transformed into active roles and become the social criteria for assigning status.
He believed that deviant individuals must react symbolically to their own behavior aberrations and fix them in their sociopsychological patterns.
He stated that the deviations remain primary deviations or symptomatic and situational as long as they are rationalized or otherwise dealt with as functions of a socially acceptable role.

#1: What is the difference between primary and secondary deviance?
#3: What are the policy implications of Lemert's theory? For example, what would be the best way to respond to youths who are caught committing delinquent acts?
#2: What is meant by the concept of "societal reaction"? How do the reactions of others affect someone who is being defined as a deviant?
- Objective evidence of this change will be found in the symbolic appurtenances of the new role, in clothes, speech, posture, and mannerisms, which is some cases heighten social visibility, and which in some cases serve as symbolic cues to professionalization.
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