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Give an example of how a person might come to be seen as deviant (or criminal) without having committed an act of deviance.   The Labeling Theory is a subset of Interactionism. This theory assumes that the ACTIONS one performs are not as important as the REACTIONS of those around the supposed ‘deviant’ individual. In fact, labeling theorists point out that people can be labeled as ‘deviant’ without having committed any actual deviant activity. Nevertheless, once so labeled, the person may be seen as deviant (or criminal) by society.

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The most common way for a person to be labeled as deviant when they have not actually committed any deviant act is for the person to have characteristics that are stereotypically associated with deviants.

Perhaps the clearest example of this is the way a person presents him or herself.  A person can easily be labeled as a deviant simply based on appearances; clothes, hairstyle, and other such attributes.  We are quick, for example, to label any young African American man as a deviant if he wears clothes that are associated with gang membership and other such deviant behavior. 

This is one example of how appearances can lead a person to be labeled as deviant simply because of how society perceives those appearances.

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