Social Reaction Theory, also and more commonly known as the Labeling theory explains criminal careers in terms of destructive social interaction and stigma-producing encounters. Basically, in simpler terms, it explains why people choose criminal careers as a consequence of labeling, which has a stigmatizing effect. (Stigma is to apply negative labels with enduring effects in a person’s self-image and social interactions. For example, can you think back to high school and recall the “nerd, popular, mood at math, or athlete” of your class? If you can, you know that labels stick! If YOU can remember, imagine how well the person who is labeled remembers!
People can deviate in ways what will barely impact their long-term life or in ways that will significantly affect their long-term life. The first one, primary deviance, is officially defined as a norm violation with little or no long-term influence on the violator”. For example, stealing a CD from a music store and not getting caught. The latter, secondary deviance, is defined as “ a norm violation or crime that comes to the attention of significant others or social control agents, who apply a negative label with long-term consequences for the violator’s self-identity and social interactions”. For example, going into a CD store, getting caught, and being prohibited from entering your favorite music store ever again. This may cause you to build up anger and frustration rather than restore you.