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Labeling and delinquency.

Recently, there has been renewed interest in the contribution of labeling theory to the study of delinquency (Ray & Downs, 1986; Paternoster paternoster: see Lord's Prayer.  & Iovanni, 1989; Matsueda, 1992). The basic assumption of the theory is that perceived negative societal reactions lead to the development of negative self-conceptions and greater delinquent involvement (Lemert, 1951; Becker, 1963). Labeling theorists have stressed the importance of both formal and informal labeling (Lemert, 1951). Formal labels are those obtained through contact with social control agencies, whereas informal labels are generated by parents, teachers, and peers.

Contact with social control agencies is believed to "stigmatize stig·ma·tize  
tr.v. stig·ma·tized, stig·ma·tiz·ing, stig·ma·tiz·es
1. To characterize or brand as disgraceful or ignominious.

2. To mark with stigmata or a stigma.

" juveniles (Garfinkel, 1956). One of the possible responses to being stigmatized or negatively labeled is involvement in delinquent behavior. The results of numerous studies show that juveniles who are formally processed through the juvenile justice system and have formal contact with other social control agencies report greater subsequent delinquency (Tannenbaum, 1938; Mead, 1964; Gold, 1970; Ageton & Elliott, 1974; Gibbs, 1974; Klein, 1974; Farrington, 1977; Hepburn, 1977; Thomas, 1977; Thomas & Bishop, 1984).

Fewer studies have examined the effects of informal labeling on delinquency. When informal labeling is the focus of research, much of the emphasis is placed on negative parental reactions (Aultman & Wellford, 1979; Matsueda, 1992). This practice overlooks the potentially important role of teachers and peers in the labeling process.

Though empirical research Noun 1. empirical research - an empirical search for knowledge
inquiry, research, enquiry - a search for knowledge; "their pottery deserves more research than it has received"
 has supported the predictive power The predictive power of a scientific theory refers to its ability to generate testable predictions. Theories with strong predictive power are highly valued, because the predictions can often encourage the falsification of the theory.  of labeling, there continues to be debate in the criminological field regarding the status of labeling as a theory of delinquency (Hagan, 1974; Meade, 1974; Tittle, 1980). The major criticisms of the labeling perspective are that its alleged theoretical imprecision results in insufficient clarity regarding key concepts, and that its propositions are not empirically verifiable (Wellford, 1975; Gove, 1980).

The present study is intended to improve the status of the labeling perspective by first providing an unambiguous rendition of the theory and a methodology for measuring self-concept. Second, the relative explanatory powers of both formal and informal labeling are assessed. Third, many of the previous attempts to confirm labeling theory's secondary deviance hypothesis have been in the form of integrated theoretical models (Menard & Morse, 1984; Simons et al., 1980). In contrast, the present study assesses a model including only theoretically derived labeling variables and appropriate background variables. Finally, this study assesses the robustness of labeling theory variables' predictive powers in terms of explaining involvement in different types of delinquency (i.e., general, serious, and drug-related).

Symbolic Interaction and Labeling Theory

The symbolic interaction perspective provides the conceptual and theoretical foundation for labeling theory's secondary deviance hypothesis. The first question labeling theorists must address is how do juveniles form their self-conceptions for which they attach negative labels? By answering this question, researchers can then proceed to test hypotheses concerning the relationships between perceived negative labeling and delinquency.

Labeling theorists, borrowing from Mead's (1934) social psychology, assume that juveniles, in their routine activities, are bombarded with different cues and clues as to how they are perceived by others in their community. Juveniles, through role-taking (Cooley, 1902) and defining situations (Thomas, 1923), are able to accurately interpret the meanings of symbols and gestures used to project labels upon them.

This ability to make choices and to participate in cooperative interaction via significant symbols suggests that human beings are not passive receptors of negative labels (Manis, 1955; Miyamoto & Dornbusch, 1956; Couch, 1958; Reeder et al., 1960; Maehn et al., 1962; Kinch, 1963; Sherwood, 1965). Labeling theorists acknowledge that some juveniles negotiate labels and indeed attempt to disavow TO DISAVOW. To deny the authority by which an agent pretends to have acted as when he has exceeded the bounds of his authority.
     2. It is the duty of the principal to fulfill the contracts which have been entered into by his authorized agent; and when an agent
 their deviant imputations (Davis, 1961). Thus, the overly deterministic view (Akers, 1967) of labeling theory's secondary deviance hypothesis appears unwarranted.

Mead believed that "to name or define something is never merely an 'idealistic' procedure. It is instead a consequence of an act" (Melossi, 1985, p. 199). This line of reasoning Noun 1. line of reasoning - a course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating a truth or falsehood; the methodical process of logical reasoning; "I can't follow your line of reasoning"
logical argument, argumentation, argument, line
 is consistent with Becker's (1963) notion that social groups create deviance by their reactions to known acts. From this perspective, then, "a name, definition, or label designates something which is the product of a successful conversation of gestures" (Melossi, 1985, p. 199). These successful conversations of gestures are what makes the process of labeling the "self" possible.

To summarize, labeling theorists assume that, during real or imagined interactions, individuals project themselves into the role of significant others and make assessments or self-appraisals (Cooley, 1902; Shibutani, 1961; Bern, 1972). The self becomes an object (Mead, 1934) for which the individual attaches labels, both positive and negative. This assumption is guided by the view that humans have the ability to choose among competing labels for their self-conceptions.

Measuring Perceived Informal Labeling of the Self

The major obstacle to empirically verifying labeling theory's secondary deviance hypothesis is the self-concept variable. Most self-concept studies have relied on global measures of self-esteem (e.g., see Rosenberg, 1979) instead of focusing on the adoption of a deviant self-concept. This body of literature adds little support for labeling theory because a juvenile can have a negative self-concept and yet have high self-esteem.

To empirically test labeling theory, a methodology must be used that captures the complexity and multidimensional nature of the self. Following closely the work of Burke and Tully (1977) and Chassin et al. (1981a), the present study proposes an improved measure of the effects of societal reactions on the self-concept.

Burke and Tully (1977) developed a semantic differential Semantic differential is a type of a rating scale designed to measure the connotative meaning of objects, events, and concepts. Nominalists and realists
Theoretical underpinnings of Charles E.
 scale for measuring role identities. They analyzed data from a sample of sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students from over 50 classrooms at 15 urban schools in a Midwestern city. Questionnaires containing 34 adjective pairs were presented in a semantic differential index (five-point, Likert-type format). The researchers were interested in measuring the meaning of "boyness and girlness" in response to "usually boys are" and "usually girls are" (Burke & Tully, 1977, p. 887). The results of discriminant dis·crim·i·nant  
An expression used to distinguish or separate other expressions in a quantity or equation.
 analysis showed that the methodology validly measured gender role identities.

Chassin et al. (1981b) employed a modified version of Burke and Tully's (1977) semantic differential index to empirically test labeling theory. Similar to the present study, their sample consisted of 96 males who were incarcerated incarcerated /in·car·cer·at·ed/ (in-kahr´ser-at?ed) imprisoned; constricted; subjected to incarceration.

Confined or trapped, as a hernia.
 in a state correctional facility. They were asked to describe themselves within the confines of the institution by selecting from a semantic differential scale consisting of 11 descriptive and contrasting adjectives. Some of the adjective pairs were as follows: rebellious/obedient, strong/weak, and rough/gentle. The findings showed that the technique was a "valid measure of the identification with a deviant label" (Chassin et al., 198 la, p. 35). Those juveniles who had negative self-concepts reported greater involvement in delinquent behavior.

In the present study, a similar methodology is used to measure perceived labeling of the self-concept. This was done because a true test of labeling theory must focus on identifying and measuring the descriptors used by juveniles to label their self-concepts.

Based on the symbolic interaction and labeling theories' assumptions, several predictions were made. First, juveniles who choose negative descriptors for their self-concepts will report greater involvement in delinquency. Second, perceived labeling by parents, teachers, and peers will have stronger, positive effects on self-reported delinquency than labels imputed Attributed vicariously.

In the legal sense, the term imputed is used to describe an action, fact, or quality, the knowledge of which is charged to an individual based upon the actions of another for whom the individual is responsible rather than on the individual's
 from contact with social control agencies (formal labeling). Finally, the relative effects of formal and informal labeling will vary by type of delinquency.


Subjects and Procedure

Data were obtained from a larger study of high school students' attitudes and behaviors regarding drugs and delinquency in Mississippi. The study population consisted of juveniles who were held in the state's two training schools in July, 1992. Most of the respondents (58.5%) reported that they lived in rural areas. These juveniles had been remanded to the custody of Mississippi Youth Services for a wide array of behaviors, ranging from status offenses to serious gang-related activities.

A questionnaire was administered in group settings. Each group was comprised of approximately 25 juveniles. The researchers used overhead transparencies and read each item to the subjects. Of the 337 juveniles detained at the two facilities during the survey period, 277 completed the questionnaire. The remaining 60 juveniles did not participate in the study for several reasons, including court appearances, preparation for release, and placement in solitary confinement solitary confinement n. the placement of a prisoner in a Federal or state prison in a cell away from other prisoners, usually as a form of internal penal discipline, but occasionally to protect the convict from other prisoners or to prevent the prisoner from causing .

Empirical Measures

The background variables included gender, race, and age. There were 249 males and 28 females. Regarding race, 210 blacks, 55 whites, 7 Hispanics, and 2 Native Americans were included in the analysis. Data on race were missing for 3 respondents. Dummy coding was used to categorize gender (0 = female and 1 = male) and race (0 = nonwhite non·white  
A person who is not white.

nonwhite adj.
 and 1 = white). The juveniles' ages ranged from 10 to 18 (see Table 1).

Formal labeling. This variable (FORMAL) reflected the extent to which the youths had been stigmatized by being formally processed through the juvenile justice system (Tannenbaum, 1938) and in contact with other social control agencies. These occasions are used in the present study to represent successful "status degradation ceremonies" (Garfinkel, 1956). The variable was operationalized by the juveniles' responses to the following questions, which were coded 0 = no and 1 yes: (1) Have you ever been taken into custody by the police? (2) Have you ever been required to attend an adjudicatory hearing? (3) Have you ever been on court-ordered probation? (4) Have you ever been on court-ordered parole? (5) Have you ever been on house detention? (6) Have you ever had to pay a fine? (7) Have you ever had to pay restitution? (8) Have you ever been in a temporary holdover hold·o·ver  
One that is held over from an earlier time: a political advisor who was a holdover from the Reagan era; a family tradition that is a holdover from my grandparents' childhood.

Noun 1.
? (9) Have you ever been sent to counseling? (10) Have you ever been sent to counseling with your parents? Thus, the scores on this index ranged from 0 to 10, with high scores reflecting high levels of negative formal labeling. The mean and standard deviation for the index were 6.247 and 2.113, respectively, and the Cronbach's alpha Cronbach's (alpha) has an important use as a measure of the reliability of a psychometric instrument. It was first named as alpha by Cronbach (1951), as he had intended to continue with further instruments.  reliability coefficient was .6352.

Informal labeling. Perceived negative informal labeling measures were developed by following the methodology introduced by Burke and Tully (1977). As stated earlier, the present study utilizes a semantic differential scale which was comprised of six contrasting descriptive adjectives. Respondents were asked to identify the labels that best reflect the perception of them from the perspective of three groups of significant others: parents (FAMLAB), teachers (TEACHLAB), and peers (PEERLAB). The descriptive contrasting adjectives were as follows: (1) cooperative or troublesome, (2) good or bad, (3) conforming or deviant, (4) obedient or disobedient, (5) polite or rude, and (6) law-abiding or deviant. Positive descriptors (or adjectives) were coded as 0, neutral descriptors were coded as 1, and negative descriptors were coded as 2. Scores for each index ranged from 0 to 12, with higher scores indicating greater perceived negative labeling of the self from the perspectives of the three groups of significant others. The mean and standard deviation for the FAMLAB index were 5.645 and 3.686, respectively. Cronbach's alpha for this index was .8309. The mean and standard deviation for the TEACHLAB index were 5.550 and 4.274, respectively. Cronbach's alpha for this index was .8922. Finally, the mean and standard deviation for the PEERLAB index were 5.610 and 3.822, respectively. Cronbach's alpha for this index was .8597.

These adjective pairs were selected because they best distinguished between positive and negative evaluations (or labels) that are assumed to be communicated to juveniles. The resulting negative self-concept measure is an improvement over previous ones in two important ways: (1) it is quantitative in that a composite score can be obtained for multiple groups of significant others' perceived labeling, and (2) the anchor points are adjective pairs that have distinct cultural and social meanings.

Three indices were constructed to assess both the extent and type of self-reported delinquency (i.e., general, drug-related, and serious). The juveniles were asked to report the frequency of their involvement in delinquent behavior during the year prior to their incarceration Confinement in a jail or prison; imprisonment.

Police officers and other law enforcement officers are authorized by federal, state, and local lawmakers to arrest and confine persons suspected of crimes. The judicial system is authorized to confine persons convicted of crimes.
. Responses to the items were as follows: 1 = never, 2 = 1 to 5 times, 3 = 6 to 10 times, 4 = 11 to 20 times, and 5 = 21 or more times.

The general delinquency index (GENDEL) asked respondents how many times within the last year they had done the following: (1) skipped class when you were in school; (2) drank hard liquor hard liquor A popular term for beverages with a high–often > 30% by volume–ie, 60 proof alcohol content–eg, gin, rum, vodka, whiskey; HLs are preferred by alcoholics as a steady state of low-level inebriation is easier to maintain. See Standard drink. ; (3) used barbiturates Barbiturates Definition

Barbiturates are medicines that act on the central nervous system and cause drowsiness and can control seizures.
; (4) gone onto someone's land without permission; (5) burglarized a house; (6) used force to get money or things from someone; (7) been told to bring your parents to school for something you did wrong; (8) sold marijuana or hashish hashish (hăsh`ēsh, –ĭsh), resin extracted from the flower clusters and top leaves of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, and C. indica. ; (9) damaged something that did not belong to you; (10) hurt someone badly enough for him or her to need bandages; (11) taken some part of a car; (12) physically assaulted someone; (13) used hallucinogens; (14) hit a member of your family in anger; (15) been suspended from school; (16) hitchhiked where it was illegal to do so; (17) taken something not belonging to you worth less than $50; (18) drank beer or wine; (19) ran away from home; (20) used tranquilizers; (21) had or tried to have sex with someone against that person's will; (22) been sent to the principal's office for bad behavior in class; (23) carried a gun to school; (24) carried a knife to school; (25) used crack cocaine; (26) taken something not belonging to you worth over $50; (27) set fire to someone's property; (28) used a weapon to get something from a person; (29) taken something from a store without paying for it; (30) taken a motor vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, without the owner's permission; (31) smoked marijuana; and (32) used inhalants inhalants, 1. chemical vapors that are inhaled for their mind-altering effects.
2. in herbology, volatile herbal compounds that are delivered by holding a soaked pad to the nose and mouth, by placing the herbs in steaming water, or
 to get high. Cronbach's alpha for GENDEL was .9232. Scores on this index ranged from 32 to 160, and the mean and standard deviation were 67.539 and 20.836, respectively (see Table 1).

The drug-related delinquency index (DRUGDEL) contained the following items: (1) drank hard liquor; (2) used barbiturates; (3) used methadone methadone (mĕth`ədōn', –dŏn'), synthetic narcotic similar in effect to morphine. Synthesized in Germany, it came into clinical use after World War II. It is sometimes used as an analgesic and to suppress the cough reflex. ; (4) used hallucinogens; (5) drank beer or wine; (6) used tranquilizers; (7) used crack cocaine; (8) smoked marijuana; (9) used inhalants; and (10) used powdered cocaine. Cronbach's alpha for DRUGDEL was .8178. Scores on this index ranged from 10 to 50, and the mean and standard deviation were 19.627 and 7.547, respectively (see Table 1). The mean interitem correlation for the 10 items was .3202.

The serious delinquency index (SERDEL SERDEL Supervisor for Executing Remote Distributed Experiments on Lan ) contained the following items: (1) burglarized a house; (2) used force to get money or things from someone; (3) hurt someone badly enough for him or her to need bandages; (4) physically assaulted someone; (5) had or tried to have sex with someone against that person's will; (6) taken something not belonging to you worth over $50; (7) set fire to someone's property; (8) used a weapon to get something from a person; (9) taken a motor vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle, without the owner's permission; (10) bought stolen goods; and (11) broke into a place to steal. Cronbach's alpha for SERDEL was .8640. Scores on this index ranged from 11 to 55, and the mean and standard deviation were 23.536 and 9.019, respectively (see Table 1).


Before testing the secondary deviance hypothesis, correlation analyses were conducted to determine the relationship among the informal labeling measures (parents, teachers, and friends). This is consistent with the notion that juveniles have as many self-conceptions as they do groups of significant others (Mead, 1934). This approach is in stark contrast to that proposed by Matsueda (1992), who assumes that youth-reflected appraisals from parents, teachers, and peers coalesce into a single self representing convergence or consensus in reflected appraisals, rather than splitting into conflicting, compartmentalized com·part·men·tal·ize  
tr.v. com·part·men·tal·ized, com·part·men·tal·iz·ing, com·part·men·tal·iz·es
To separate into distinct parts, categories, or compartments: "You learn . . .
 selves" (p. 1592).

As shown in Table 2, the strongest relationship was between family labeling and teacher labeling (r = .4882, p <.001). In short, the correlation matrix Noun 1. correlation matrix - a matrix giving the correlations between all pairs of data sets
statistics - a branch of applied mathematics concerned with the collection and interpretation of quantitative data and the use of probability theory to estimate population
 did not indicate strong enough relationships among the informal labeling measures to preclude separate multivariate analyses. These findings support the notion that competing, opposite appraisals should not be unified into a single conception of self.

The next phase of the study attempted to determine the relative effects of parent, teacher, and peer labeling and contact with social control agencies (formal labeling) on self-reported delinquency. Multiple regression models were used to determine the effects of each of the labeling measures while controlling for the other variables included in the equations. These analyses were not compromised by severe multi-collinearity problems, based on a collinearity collinearity

very high correlation between variables.
 analysis that produced minimal variance inflation factors.

Accounting for the variance in the general delinquency scores, among the informal labeling groups, teacher labeling ([beta] .190, p < .05) was the strongest significant predictor, followed closely by formal labeling ([beta] = .l89,p < .05). Peer labeling and family labeling were not significant predictors of general delinquent involvement (see Table 3).

The background variables were found to be more strongly predictive of general delinquency. White youths reported significantly greater levels of delinquent involvement than black youths ([beta] = .205, p < .01), males reported greater involvement than females ([beta] = .223, p < .01), and older youths reported greater involvement than younger ones ([beta] = .225, p < .01). Taken as a whole, the model explained 30.4% of the variance in self-reported general delinquency.

These findings indicate that teachers are important sources of negative labeling, but that negative labeling by social control agents also is important. These two groups appear to be better predictors of general delinquency than peers and family members.

Little is known about the predictive powers of labeling variables in terms of explaining involvement in serious (or index) offenses. As shown in Table 3, peer labeling ([beta] =.25l,p < .001) and teacher labeling ([beta] = .179, p < .05) were both significant predictors of serious delinquency. Consistent with the general delinquency model, family labeling was not significant at the conventional .05 level. Similar to the general delinquency model, formal labeling was a moderately strong predictor ([beta] = .217,p < .001) of serious delinquency among this group of incarcerated youths.

The results also show that racial background was not a significant predictor of involvement in the index offenses. However, age ([beta] = .182, p <.01) had a moderate, positive effect on serious delinquency, with older youths reporting more frequent involvement. Gender was found to have a moderate effect (13 .222, p < .001) on serious delinquency, illustrative of greater male involvement. Overall, approximately 30% of the variance in serious delinquency was explained by the variables included in the model.

In the analysis of drug-related delinquency, shown in Table 3, none of the labeling measures attained statistical significance at the .05 level. This finding suggests that there is a substantial lack of fit between the theory and the phenomenon of interest. In this instance, it is plausible that the nature of the delinquent behavior may have drawn the youths into a retreatist subcultural environment devoid of parental and teacher influence. In such an environment, it is likely that peer relationships will take a form supportive of increased drug use.

Regarding the background variables, whites reported significantly greater drug-related delinquency than did blacks ([beta] = .506, p < .001). Among this sample of incarcerated youths, males reported more frequent drug use ([beta] = .132, p < .05). As would be expected, age was also a strong predictor of drug-related delinquency ([beta] = .230, p < .001); older juveniles reported more frequent involvement in drug crimes. This model explained approximately 42% of the variance in self-reported involvement in drug-related delinquency.


There were three major objectives of the present study: (1) to test the validity of the semantic differential scale for measuring negative self-concepts; (2) to determine the relative effects of informal and formal labeling on self-reported delinquency; and (3) to determine the predictive powers of labeling variables in terms of general and serious delinquency and drug-related offenses.

First, the validity of the semantic differential measure of self-concept was supported by the results of the analyses. As the number of negative descriptive adjectives increased, so did the youths' self-reported involvement in delinquency. This finding is indicative of what Lemert (1951) referred to as secondary delinquency.

Second, in terms of informal labeling sources, the present study was based on the assumption that juveniles have as many selves as they do groups whose opinions they value (Cooley, 1902; Mead, 1934). For this reason, the three groups of significant others included in the models were parents, teachers, and peers. Teacher and peer labeling were the only significant predictors of general and serious delinquency. This finding is somewhat inconsistent with previous labeling studies that report parent labeling as the strongest predictor of delinquency (Aultman & Wellford, 1979; Matsueda, 1992).

This finding may be, in part, a result of the differences in the measures used. For instance, Matsueda (1992) only utilized appraisals from parents. It may be that perceived parental labeling is a weaker predictor of delinquency because juveniles try to keep their delinquency secret from their parents. As a result of successful deviance disavowal dis·a·vow  
tr.v. dis·a·vowed, dis·a·vow·ing, dis·a·vows
To disclaim knowledge of, responsibility for, or association with.
 (Davis, 1961) by juveniles in the eyes of their parents, they are able to negotiate more moderate labels. However, in the case of teachers and peers, it is difficult to commit secret delinquency, given that most youths spend more time at school and with friends than they do with their parents.

In addition, many of the juveniles included in the study have been referred previously to one or more social control agencies. In most cases, parents are adamant about keeping their children out of jail: they go to great lengths to preserve their freedom. Yet, parents in these situations often use an array of expletives to describe their children. Weighing these two diametrically di·a·met·ri·cal   also di·a·met·ric
1. Of, relating to, or along a diameter.

2. Exactly opposite; contrary.

 opposed reactions, juveniles may be unable to accurately select between two extreme bipolar adjectives to describe themselves through their parents' eyes.

Further, parents, as opposed to teachers and peers, are more inclined to react inclusively instead of exclusively (Orcutt, 1973) to primary deviance Primary deviance is a term created by Edwin Lemert that represents actions that are against norms of a society or a group but are relatively mild in which committed primary deviance would not impact one's self-concept. . Inclusive reactions are manifested in attempts to increase the amount of quality time spent with the juvenile. In contrast, peer groups and teachers are likely to respond in a more exclusive manner. That is, teachers may send the juvenile to the principal's office and peers may sever their ties with a troublemaker to avoid obtaining a courtesy stigma (Goffman, 1963). These reactions and subsequent perceived appraisals are likely to result in the adoption of negative self-conceptions in relation to teachers and peers.

Third, the results of the present study reiterate the need for additional research on the impact of informal labeling (Paternoster & Iovanni, 1989). Consistent across the general and serious delinquency models, the magnitude of the informal labeling measures was typically greater than or similar to that of the formal labeling measure. From a labeling theory perspective, then, secondary delinquency may appear more a function of informal than formal labeling.

This finding is consistent with Becker's (1963, p. 16) alternative meaning of the concept "outsiders" (Paternoster & Iovanni, 1989). If the labels for the self are generated by social control agents whom the juvenile has little regard for, the "deviant imputation IMPUTATION. The judgment by which we declare that an agent is the cause of his free action, or of the result of it, whether good or ill. Wolff, Sec. 3.  made by control agents carries less potency and thereby is less likely to cause a significant shift in actor's motivational commitment" (Paternoster & Iovanni, 1989, p. 382). Also, for many juveniles, being arrested or referred to a social agency is a source of esteem. The contacts with the agencies reinforce or legitimize le·git·i·mize  
tr.v. le·git·i·mized, le·git·i·miz·ing, le·git·i·miz·es
To legitimate.

 the acquired labels. In short, it appears that contact with social control agents is secondary to the reactions of significant others in explaining involvement in delinquent behavior.

The final objective of the study was to determine the predictive powers of labeling variables in relation to general and serious delinquency and drug-related offenses. For this group of incarcerated youths, labeling variables were found to be significant predictors of the two former types of delinquency. In relation to drug-related offenses, none of the labeling variables attained statistical significance.

A possible explanation for this finding is that juveniles are infrequently jailed or imprisoned for drug use and most other drug-related offenses except for street-level trafficking. Therefore, little in the way of negative formal labeling takes place. As to the informal labels, this finding may reflect apathy toward drugs. That is, with high numbers of school dropouts, teenage pregnancies, and violent crimes among juveniles, drug-related delinquency may be perceived as the lesser of the available evils. These factors combined may be responsible for the inability of formal and perceived informal labeling to have the hypothesized effects on involvement in drug-related offenses.

Another plausible explanation for the apparent lack of fit between labeling theory and drug-related delinquency involves the informal labeling measures employed in the analysis. The adjective pairs included in the indices were general in nature. It may be that a better measure of the self-concept related to drug use is needed for labeling theory predictions to be supported. For instance, Ray and Downs (1986) asked subjects to rate themselves from the perspective of multiple groups of significant others in terms of their drug use. The ratings ranged from "nonuser non·us·er  
One who refrains from the use of something, as of narcotic drugs or alcohol.
" to "addict." The results of their study showed that perceived negative labeling was a strong predictor of self-reported drug use behavior patterns. Thus, future research in this area should consider using a semantic differential methodology for measuring the meanings of the perceived labels accorded to juveniles who engage in specific types of delinquency.

To summarize, the results of the present study are generally supportive of labeling theory. Perceived negative labels were related to increased involvement in self-reported delinquent behavior. The study also showed that teachers and peer groups are important sources of negative labels which can lead to the adoption of a deviant self-concept. The results also indicate that labeling variables are better predictors of general and serious delinquency than they are of drug-related offenses.
Table 1

Means, Standard Deviations, and Coding Schemes for Selected Variables
(N = 277)

Variable          Coding                  M      SD      n

FAMLAB     0 = positive perception to   5.645   3.686   248
          12 = negative perception

TEACHLAB   0 = positive perception to   5.550   4.274   249
          12 = negative perception

PEERLAB    0 = positive perception to   5.610   3.822   259
          12 = negative perception

FORMAL     0 = low levels of negative   6.247   2.113   223
               formal labeling to
          10 = high levels of negative
               formal labeling

GENDEL    32 = low delinquent           67.539  20.836  191
               involvement to
          160  high delinquent

SERDEL    11 = low delinquent           23.536  9.019   252
               involvement to
          55 = high delinquent

DRUGDEL   10 = low delinquent           19.627  7.547   220
               involvement to
          50 = high delinquent

AGE       1 = less than 13 years        3.091   .761    277
          2 = 13-14 years
          3 = 15-16 years
          4 = 17-18 years

RACE      0 = nonwhite                  .200    .401    277
          1 = white

GENDER    0 = female                    .899    .302    277
          1 = male

Note. FAMLAB = Parent Labeling; TEACHLAB = Teacher Labeling; PEERLAB =
Peer Labeling; FORMAL = Formal Labeling; GENDEL = General Delinquency;
SERDEL = Serious Delinquency; DRUGDEL = Drug-Related Delinquency.

Table 2

Correlations, Means, and Standard Deviations Among Labeling Measures
(n = 192)


FAMLAB      --                                   5.541  3.686
TEACHLAB  .4882 ***    --                        5.338  4.191
PEERLAB   .4064 ***  .4160 ***    --             5.494  3.782
FORMAL    .0863      .0499      .1062    --      6.270  2.087

Note. FAMLAB = Parent Labeling; TEACHLAB = Teacher Labeling; PEERLAB =
Peer Labeling; FORMAL = Formal Labeling;

*** p < .001

Table 3

Unstandardized Betas (b), Standard Errors (SE b), and Standardized Betas
([beta]) from Regressions of Delinquency Measures on Informal and Formal
Labeling Variables and Background Characteristics

                            GENDEL                      SERDEL

Variables              b   SE b      [beta]           b   SE b

FAMLAB            .25       .47       .05        .00       .16
TEACHLAB          .92 *     .40       .19 *      .36 *     .15
PEERLAB           .86       .44       .16        .56 ***   .16
FORMAL           1.83 *     .71       .19 *      .89 ***   .26
AGE              6.33 **   2.11       .23 **    2.15 **    .76
RACE             9.41 **   3.35       .21 **   -2.27      1.32
GENDER          12.84 **   4.19       .22 **    5.38 ***  1.59
Constant        10.53      8.91                 1.76      3.20
[R.sup.2]         .30 ***                        .30 ***
Adj. [R.sup.2]    .27                            .27
n                 143                            179

                  SERDEL                DRUGDEL

Variables        [beta]           b   SE b      [beta]

FAMLAB           .00         .24       .16      .11
TEACHLAB         .18 *       .22       .13      .12
PEERLAB          .25 ***     .00       .15      .00
FORMAL           .22 ***     .41       .24      .11
AGE              .18 **     2.43 ***   .68      .23 ***
RACE            -.11        9.22 ***  1.16      .51 ***
GENDER           .22 ***    2.99 *    1.44      .13 *
Constant                    2.25      2.80
[R.sup.2]                    .42 ***
Adj. [R.sup.2]               .39
n                            157

Note. FAMLAB = Parent Labeling; TEACHLAB = Teacher Labeling; PEERLAB =
Peer Labeling; FORMAL = Formal Labeling; GENDEL = General Delinquency;
SERDEL = Serious Delinquency; DRUGDEL = Drug-Related Delinquency.

* p < .05; **p <.01; ***p <.001.


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Craig T. Robertson, Department of Sociology Noun 1. department of sociology - the academic department responsible for teaching and research in sociology
sociology department

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 and Criminal Justice, University of North Alabama UNA in nonfiction
Baker roots
Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, III, stumbled upon a major family discovery sparked by a visit to Florence, where he delivered the 2002 annual commencement address at the University of North Alabama - a discovery he discusses
, Florence, Alabama Florence city is the seat of Lauderdale County, which is situated in the northwest corner of the U.S. state of Alabama.

According to the 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the city's population was 36,721.

Phyllis Gray-Ray, Mississippi Urban Research Center, Jackson State University Jackson State University, often abridged as Jackson State or by its initials JSU is a historically black university located in Jackson, Mississippi founded in 1877. , Jackso, Mississippi.

Melvin C. Ray, Mississippi State University Mississippi State University, at Mississippi State, near Starkville; land-grant and state supported; coeducational; chartered 1878 as an agricultural and mechanical college, opened 1880. From 1932 to 1958 it was known as Mississippi State College. , State College, Mississippi.

Reprint requests to Mike S. Adams, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, University of North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures

Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop.
 at Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina For other places with the same name, see Wilmington (disambiguation).
Wilmington is a city in New Hanover County, North Carolina, United States. The population was estimated at 100,000 as of 2006;[1]
 28403. E-mail:
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