The Interactionist labelling theory/Y damcaniaeth labelu Rhyngweithiol (En/Cy)

English version/fersiwn Saesneg:

The labelling theory belongs to the Interactionists. They believe that nobody is naturally deviant (an idea that conflicts with the New Right), but become deviant when labelled as such, and whatever label this may be has a profound influence on the individual’s actions. Interactionists focus on the individual’s response to their label(s); this is what distinguishes them from other social theorists, such as the Functionalists, who tend to focus their attention on what leads the individual to deviance in the first place.

Lemert developed the labelling theory. The argued that deviance could be split into two separate groups – primary and secondary. The former is referenced to deviance which does not gain the attention of the public, and therefore does not receive a label. The latter, on the other hand, means actions which does receive a label from society, similarly, Howard Becker puts forth the notion that the term deviance does not actually exist, “Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label”, and, “an act only becomes deviant when people define it as such”. He therefore implies that an action has to be labelled as deviant for it to actually become one, because the term itself is socially constructed.

As it is socially constructed, the environment surrounding the situation, including where, when and for which reasons it has occurred, decide if the action is deviant. Often times, the proses of stigmatisation will occur if something is considered deviant, and the action itself will be thereby associated with a bad label. Sometimes the label works like the ‘master status’, which takes over every other label. Examples of this include thieves, prostitutes and homosexuals (this is considered deviant in many cultures).  All the negative connotations of that label are usually thrusted onto the individual. The Interactionist Jock Young supports Becker’s work through his research into Hippy culture. Smoking weed was not considered to be a priority for these groups, until the negative attention from the public and the police.

According to Cooley and his “looking glass self” theory, people tend to see themselves how other people perceive and react to them. The label works as a self-fulfilling prophecy to control people; often, they will start to act to live up to the label, and thus starting a ‘deviant career’, meaning that certain individuals will start to revolve their lives around deviance and/or crime. The activity, therefore, will turn into a social role.

The Sociologist Stan Cohen pointed out in his ‘moral panic’ thesis on the subject of the labelling theory, that subcultures are the most exposed to this process. To start, Cohen suggested that the public would take notice of an activity taking place. An example would be, according to his study, the Mods and Rockers of 1960’s England. As a result of this, agencies of formal and informal control would react to it. The media often amplifies deviance and exaggerates a particular event to make the story more newsworthy, and thus selling more newspapers and generating more profit, although this has negative effects on society. Members of society would start to be wary of specific symbols and icons, and view them as troublemakers. Then, they would overstate the situation by expecting more trouble, and thereby redefining the issue by creating moral panic as a reaction to deviance. Additionally, this may necessitate police officers to target specific groups, meaning that the labelling theory would rotate once again.

To reiterate, the labelling theory plays a significant role within society if we take into account its effect on individuals. Labels may have a positive and negative effect on individuals, and is completely dependent on the situation, or even if the action is labelled by society in the first place.

Welsh version/fersiwn Cymraeg:

Mae’r theori labelu yn perthyn i’r Rhyngweithwyr. Credon nhw fod neb yn wyrdroëdig yn naturiol, ond yn wydredig o dan label, a’r label sy’n ddylanwad mawr ar ymddygiad unigolyn (mae hyn yn gwrthddweud credoau’r Dde Newydd). Mae’r Rhyngweithwyr yn ffocysu ar ymateb yr unigolyn i’r label, ac i’r gwrthwyneb, lle mae’r Swyddogaethwyr yn ffocysu ar beth sy’n arwain at yr unigolyn i fod yn wydredig yn y lle cyntaf.

Datblygwyd y syniad o label gan Lemert. Mae gwyredd yn rhannu i ddau grŵp gwahanol, sef gwyredd cynradd ac eilradd. Mae gwyredd cynradd yn cyfeirio at wyredd nad sy’n derbyn sylw’r cyhoedd ac felly nid oes ganddo label. Mae gwyredd eilradd, ar y llaw arall, yn golygu gweithred sy’n derbyn label gan y gymdeithas. Yn debyg, soniodd Howard Becker nad yw’r term gwyredd yn bodoli, “Deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label”, ac, “an act only becomes deviant when people define it as such”. Awgrymir felly, rhaid i weithred cael ei enwi’n gwyredd er mwyn iddo fod yn wyredd, gan fod y term ei hun yn enghraifft o luniad cymdeithasol.

Gan ei fod yn lluniad cymdeithasol, mae’r amgylchiadau o gwmpas y sefyllfa, megis ble, pryd, ac am ba resymau, yn penderfynu os yw gweithred yn gwyredig. Yn aml bydd y proses o stigmateiddio yn digwydd os caiff rhywbeth ei labelu’n gwyredig, a chysylltwyd y weithred â label gwael. Weithiau bydd y label yn gweithio fel “Statws Meistr” ac yn cymryd dros bob label arall, megis lleidr, person hoyw, person ag iselder a llofruddwr. Cysylltwyd yr holl dermau negyddol sy’n perthyn i’r label i’r unigolyn. Mae’r Rhyngweithwyr Jock Young yn atgyfnerthu gwaith Becker trwy eu astudiaeth o ‘Hippies’ pwy oedd yn ysmygu cyffuriau. Nid oedd y gweithgaredd hyn yn arwyddocâd iddynt nes i’r cyfryngau a’r heddlu targedu nhw.

Yn ôl Cooley, yn ei ddamcaniaeth “through the looking-glass self”, mae pobl yn gweld eu hunain yn y ffordd mae pobl eraill yn ymateb iddynt. Mae’r label yn gweithio fel proffwydoliaeth hunan gyflawni i reoli’r unigolyn – byddent yn ddechrau ymddwyn fel y label, fel arfer, a dechrau gyrfa gwyredig, sy’n golygu bydd pobl yn ddechrau byw eu bywydau yn uniongyrchol i droseddu. Bydd y gweithgaredd, felly, yn troi i mewn i rôl gymdeithasol.

Sonnir Stanley Cohen yn ei damcaniaeth o banig moesol ynglŷn â’r theori label, yn bennaf ymysg isddiwylliannau. I ddechrau, bu’r cyhoedd yn cymryd sylw o’r gweithgaredd, ac esiampl o hyn yw’r Mods a Rockers y chwedegau. Fel canlyniad o hyn, bydder asiantaethau yn ymateb i’r gweithgaredd, megis y cyfryngau. Bydd y cyhoedd yn aml yn helaethu gwyredd i werthu papurau, sydd yn creu ganlyniadau gwael ar y gymdeithas. Bydd y gymdeithas yn gweld symbolau penodol fel eiconau o achoswyr trwbl. Yna, byddent yn gorliwio’r sefyllfa ac yn rhagweld mwy o drwbl, a chrëwyd panig moesol fel ymateb i’r gwyredd, sy’n ailddiffinio’r broblem. Hefyd, efallai bydd hyn yn achosi i’r heddlu i orymateb a thargedu grwpiau penodol o bobl, a bydd y theori label yn cylchdroi eto.

I grynhoi, mae’r theori labelu yn chwarae rôl hanfodol o fewn y gymdeithas, gan ystyried ei ddylanwad ar yr unigolyn. Gall y label effeithio person yn negyddol ac mewn ffordd cadarnhaol, sy’n hollol ddibynnol ar y sefyllfa, neu hyd yn oed os yw’r gweithred yn cael ei labelu gan y gymdeithas yn y lle cyntaf.

Surveillance (English/Cymraeg)


English translation:

The word “surveillance” is derived from French, meaning to observe something or someone to find and block crime. “Sur” means “from above” and “veiller” means “to watch”. Surveillance is a form of social control.

David Lyon defines it as “any collection of data and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or no, for the purpose of influencing or managing those whose data has been garnered”.

Examples include:

  • CCTV;
  • Tagging;
  • Tracking and
  • Storing of DNA.

In modern Britain, there are about forty thousand CCTV cameras, and in the last four years, the British Council spent roughly £515 million on them. This amount of money would be enough to employ an extra 4121 police officers.

The sociologist Gary Marx used this idea of a “surveillance state” to convey the idea that “the all-encompassing use of computer surveillance technology in modern society is for total social control”. It is possible to associate this idea with the Left Realists as they believe that surveillance is beneficial for society because it “hardens targets” – it makes it harder for people to commit crime.

Yet, despite the thousands of CCTV cameras that Britain has, crime rates aren’t comparably lower than countries who have less surveillance. Germany, for example.

The British philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) used this idea of surveillance to make a building called “the Panopticon”, which he used as a prison. The design of the “perfect prison” was structured in such a way that cells would be open to a central tower. Individuals in the cells would not be able to interact with each other and they are permanently facing a central panoptic tower. They cannot see whether or whether not there is a person in the tower and therefore must believe that they can be watched at any moment. Bentham noted that this is a model for how society should work in general.

The French postmodernist philosopher Michel Foulcault (1926-1984) also agreed that this is how society should work in order to maintain social order. He argued that the Panopticon was “a diagram of the mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form”, thus it was a positive objective because it shows that society has significantly moved forward from barbaric acts of so-called justice, such as the death penalty. Other postmodernists, like Stanley Cohen (1942-2013), supported this claim by stating that social control and detention used to be public and overt, but in modern society, it is considered to be more discrete and subtle.

Also, the Panopticon helped Foulcault explore the power-knowledge concept and the relationship between agencies of social control (like the police, for instance) and the public.  Because of this, surveillance is extremely useful, and to some extents, it helps to avoid the functionalist term of “anomie” (meaning: complete lack of social control/utter chaos).

However, many Marxists would disagree with Foulcault because they believe that surveillance is a weapon that is used by the Bourgeoisie (ruling class) to exploit and use the Proletariat (the working class).

Cyfieithiad Cymraeg:

Mae gwyliadwriaeth yn air Ffrangeg sy’n golygu gwylio rhywun neu rywbeth er mwyn darganfod a rhwystro trosedd. Mae “sur” yn golygu “o uwchben” ac mae “veiller” yn golygu “i wylio”, ac yn ffordd o sicrhau rheolaeth gymdeithasol. Mae David Lyon yn ei ddiffinio fel, “any collection of data and processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purpose of influencing or managing those whose data has been garnered”. Mae esiamplau’n cynnwys CCTV, tagio, tracio, a chadw cofnod o DNA. Bodola tua 40 mil o gamerâu monitro cymdeithasol (CCTV) ym Mhrydain, a gwariodd y Cyngor Prydeinig  tua £515 miliwn arnynt yn y pedwar blynedd ddiwethaf. Byddai math hyn o arian cyflogi 4121 heddwas.

Soniodd Gary Marx am y syniad o “cymdeithas gwyliadwriaeth”, sef, “defnydd holl-gynhwysfawr o wyliadwriaeth dechnolegol yn y gymdeithas gyfoes am reolaeth gymdeithasol gyflawn”. Mae modd cysylltu’r cysyniad gyda Realwyr y Dde oherwydd eu bod yn credu mai gwyliadwriaeth yn fuddiol i’r gymdeithas oherwydd mae’n enghraifft o galedu targedau. Mae’n caledu targedau, megis trwy “Neighbourhood Watch”, yn gwneud i drosedd fod yn fwy anodd i gyflawni.

Ond er hyn, er gwaethaf y miloedd o gamerâu monitro ym Mhrydain, nid yw cyfradd trosedd Prydain yn gymharol is na gwledydd sydd â llai o wyliadwriaeth, megis yr Almaen.

Defnyddiodd Jeremy Bentham y syniad o wyliadwriaeth i greu adeilad o’r enw “y Panoptican”. Defnyddiodd yr adeilad hwn fel carchar ac roedd yn caniatáu i warchodwyr i wylio carcharon heb iddynt allu gwybod os ydynt o dan sylw neu ddim. Roedd dim ond angen un gwarchodwr. Felly mae rhaid i’r carcharon wastad ymddwyn fel y petai eu bod yn cael eu gwylio i osgoi sancsiynau posib.

Mynegodd yr athronyddwyd ôl-fodern Michel Foulcalt yn defnyddio’r Panopticon fel trosiad i’r gymdeithas ehangach, ac mae’n “diagram of a mechanism of power reduced to its ideal form”, felly mae rhywbeth cadarnhaol yw hyn oherwydd mae’n ddangos bod y gymdeithas wedi symud ymlaen o weithredoedd barbaraidd o sancsiynu, megis yn lle’r gosb eithaf. Mae’r ôl-fodernwyr Stanley Cohen yn atgyfnerthu at y syniad hwn trwy ddweud bod rheolaeth gymdeithasol a chosbi yn arfer bod yn ddull cyhoeddus ac amlwg, ond bellach mae’n fwy arwahanol a chynnil trwy wyliadwriaeth, megis CCTV a thagio.

Hefyd, mae’r Panopticon yn helpu Foulcault i ddeall ac ystyried y cysylltiad rhwng asiantaethau rheolaeth gymdeithasol a’r cyhoedd a’r cysyniad pŵer-gwybodaeth. Oherwydd hyn, mae gwyliadwriaeth yn ddull pwerus iawn, ac i ryw raddau, mae’n osgoi’r term swyddogaethol o “anomi”.

Byddai Marcswyr yn anghytuno gyda Foulcault oherwydd maent yn dweud bod gwyliadwriaeth yn arf sy’n cael eu defnyddio gan y Bourgeoisie yn erbyn y Proletariat.

Agencies of social control

The term socialisation is a common term used by sociologists, psychologists, educationalists, anthropologists and political scientist to describe the lifelong process of learning values, norms and customs of a particular society. It provides individuals with skills and understanding that is necessary for conformity and survival.

There are five main groups that are responsible for the process of socialisation, which I will separately discuss in greater depth.

The family

The family is an example of primary socialisation, it is the earliest stage of a person’s learning about culture, for instance, how to eat with a knife and fork.

(Fact: culture is socially constructed – thus it varies from country to country. Example: Chinese culture teaches that it’s a norm to eat with chopsticks, whereas in Western countries (like the UK), children are taught to eat with a knife and fork.)

Through contact with family members, carers and other children (most likely to be siblings), the child learns basic norms and values of society. Also, what children learn varies according to social class, religion, ethnicity, and even the area in which they live. The family uses sanctions to encourage/discourage a child’s behaviour. For example, praise is given to children who say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, whereas bad behaviour is treated with negative sanctions, such as depriving children from what they enjoy, or being put on the ‘naughty step’.

Marxist theory: the family socialises children to comply with the unjust Bourgeoisie/Proletariat class system, commonly known as the ruling and working class. So whilst more affluent families educate their children to accept power and authority, the poorer families teach theirs to accept their role in the inferior class.

Feminist Theory: many feminists argue that the family reinforces gender roles through sanctions. They believe that parents are stricter with girls, which teaches them to be more obedient, while boys’ misbehaviours are largely ignored, brushing it off with language like ‘boys will be boys’. The feminist Ann Oakley points out that gender roles are introduced at an early age through dress code and toys. For instance, the girl is encouraged to wear pink and play with dolls and toy kitchens, whereas the boys are encouraged the wear blue and play with toy cars and action figures.


School is an agent of secondary socialisation which teaches pupils the norms and values of society in a formal and informal setting.

(Formal – meaning ‘proper’, or official. In context with this subject, formal education means curriculum-based subjects, which includes geography, Welsh, maths, etc.)

(Informal – meaning ‘improper’, or unofficial. Again, in context with this subject, informal education includes the ‘hidden curriculum’ –a student subconsciously picks up of the way a teacher may act or dress, which influences them to act in a certain way).

Pupils are sanctioned by using formal and informal social control. Formal social control is generally written through school rules, and when they are broken, official sanctions are applied, i.e. expulsion, detention. If a pupil is especially noted for good behaviour or achievements, official sanctions, in this case, could possibly consist of special privileges, praise assemblies etc.

Informal social control is essentially sanctioning, but with fewer, if any, consequences. For example, a pupil is taught that speaking in class is wrong through a verbal warning by a teacher. In the same way, good behaviour is encouraged by a nod of approval from a teacher.

Generally speaking, it is argued that formal social control has a bigger impact on the pupil’s education, yet informal social control still plays an essential part in influencing the pupil into a particular lifestyle and culture.

Lastly, school educates people on an intellectual level, in contrast to the family, who teaches it on an emotional level.

Peer groups

Peer groups consists of members with similar backgrounds or attributes. They tend to live in the same area and attend the same schools, which proves that peer groups can play a fundamental role on socialisation because they usually spend a great deal of time together.

The most obvious and well-known associated term would be ‘peer pressure’, meaning the the individual is under pressure to look and act in a certain way in order to be socially accepted by their peers. Rejection as a sanction is usually enforced when that member fails to conform to peer pressure.

Evans and Chandler once stated that peer pressure influences children to want the latest items, like Iphones and other expensive gadgets.

Often, peer groups can form subcultures that have norms and values that differ from mainstream society. Paul Willis’s study of working-class boys from London showed that they tended to form a ‘Lad-culture’ that rejected the ‘unfair’ class system and created alternative coping strategies to deal with educational failure, for instance, misbehaviour in class. So essentially, a person’s self-esteem, background or ideologies can influence which peer group they are attracted to, whether they have a negative or positive effect on that individual.

The workplace

Paid employment is a term that will play a significant role in nearly every person’s lives in our society. When a worker is new to a particular job, he/she must learn to conform to its norms, values and rules, or face (in)formal sanctions. This process is called re-socialisation.

Mass media

The mass media is a very prominent agency within society. Ranging from music, the internet, television, radio, magazines, newspapers and film, it allows mass communication and globalisation from all corners of the earth. As a result of the mass media being so large, it can influence and socialise people in more ways than any other social agency.

The mass media tends to focus on the distribution of role models that can have a positive and negative effect on the way males and females think and act. Bad role models, such as Kim Kardashian, can teach girls and boys to favour their looks and to destroy their self-esteem when they compare their lives to the (unrealistic) ones of the celebrities they admire.

The mass media also teaches social norms. For instance, the media tends to condemn murderers, which subconsciously teaches that it’s wrong and undesirable to copy it. Then again, especially with the popularity with gaming, games like GTA can potentially influence people to act in a negative way. For instance, the Norwegian serial killer, Anders Breivik, was allegedly playing hours and hours of violent video games before committing his atrocious crimes. On the other hand, some dispute that video gaming was no catalyst for his actions. Anders Breivik is rightfully demonised by the media, which reinforces the point that the mass media can influence one’s moral values.