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May 10, 2018 / C H Thompson

Interactionist perspective of crime – revision notes with evaluative points

What are the basics of interactionism? (comes from symbolic interactionism)

Blumer (1969) was a symbolic interactionist and had three basic views:

  • Meanings come from the social interactions between people
  • Society is created by how humans act together -> people make society, not society making people
  • Therefore meanings are not fixed -> what’s viewed as crime can differ

Interactionists or labelling theorists (same interactionists as factors inside school) reject official statistics on crime as they believe that they are social constructions – we create society, society doesn’t create us (social action theories)

They say that the self is a social construct and we construct ourselves by the way others see and react to us, which is all part of the way we construct ourselves. Deviance only becomes deviant or criminal when certain acts are labelled as such.

Therefore interactionists look at how one can be defined and labelled (think of labelling inside school) as deviant


 Becker’s ideas came about in the 1960’s. Becker came up with an introduction to the idea of labelling by looking at why people are labelled as criminal. This theory focuses on:

  • The interaction between deviants and those who define them as deviant
  • The process where rules are selectively enforced
  • The consequences of being labelled as deviant
  • The circumstance in which someone becomes labelled as deviant and set apart
  • Who has the power to attach labels and cause them to stick


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