Rational Choice vs Labeling Theory

Essay by sigmaman02University, Master's February 2006

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Over time, many theories have been developed to explain crime. Some are more effective and feasible in explaining crime than others. This can be seen in the cases of Rational Theories and the Labeling Theory, Rational Theories being the better explanation. To prove this point, we will first examine the Labeling theory and its policy implication.

The Labeling theory works on the basis that when dealing with crime, the behavior is not as important as the reaction to said behavior (the label). This implies that the way society reacts to the behavior will dictate whether or not it is deviant or better yet whether or not a person is "labeled" a criminal or deviant. The theory goes even further to say that if a behavior occurs and there is no reaction to the behavior then there is no deviance. This would contend that if a person was to commit murder and no one was to find out then he is not a murder.

Of course in the latter example, he is a murder but he does not have the label affix to him as being a murder or even a criminal therefore, society does not perceive him as such. This theory holds that if a person commits a act and we consider that act to be deviant then the person committing that act is a deviant; Even further, by labeling them a deviant we have just now increased there chances for further deviance and as such watch them even closer for said further deviance. This is true however, if they committed a deviant act are they not deviant? If they killed somebody are they not murders? If they stole from somebody are they not thieves? And as such should we not pay closer attention to them to protect ourselves and...