LabellingTheoryPART A

Working on your own, quickly categorise how each of the following acts are seen in the United Kingdom today.

Which ones are:
(a) seen as deviant AND are illegal?
(b) seen as deviant but are NOT illegal?
(c) illegal, but are not necessarily seen as deviant?

  1. Rape
  2. Using the firm’s telephone for personal calls
  3. Adultery
  4. Parking too long in a restricted bay
  5. Fiddling expenses
  6. Under age sex
  7. Living with 34 cats
  8. Bank robbery

As a group of three or four discuss your answers to Part A and explain how you arrived at those answers.


As a follow-up exercise, in your group, each person should take turns to suggest for each of the following categories, one example of something that is:

a) seen as deviant in Britain today

b) seen as deviant but is not criminal

c) illegal but may not be seen as deviant

d) not deviant/criminal today but was in the past

e) deviant/criminal today, but was not in the past

f) deviant/criminal here, but is not so in another society

g) deviant/crminal in another society, but not here

Are there any examples of behaviour that has been seen as deviant in all societies at all times?


Now use the above (Parts A and B) to help you write a short essay on the ‘relativity’ of crime and deviance.