Show Summary Details
Understanding DevianceA Guide to the Sociology of Crime and Rule-Breaking

Understanding Deviance: A Guide to the Sociology of Crime and Rule-Breaking (7th edn)

David Downes, Paul Rock, and Eugene McLaughlin
Page of

Printed from Oxford Law Trove. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 01 April 2023

p. 1607. Symbolic Interactionismlocked

p. 1607. Symbolic Interactionismlocked

  • David Downes, David DownesEmeritus Professor, London School of Economics
  • Paul RockPaul RockEmeritus Professor, London School of Economics
  •  and Eugene McLaughlinEugene McLaughlinProfessor of Criminology, City University


This chapter explores the contribution of symbolic interactionism to the sociology of deviance in the 1960s and early 1970s. It first traces the origins of symbolic interactionism, citing the work of the University of Chicago’s sociology department, particularly on the sociology of crime and control. It then looks at the emergence of symbolic interactionism and how it has occupied a prominent place in the field of criminology, as well as the interactionists’ tendency to practise a social anthropology of participant-observation. The strength of interactionism lies in its insistence on distinguishing between primary and secondary deviance and researching the social reaction to crime and deviance, particularly retrospective and projective labelling. The chapter concludes by reviewing the criticisms against the interactionist sociology of crime and deviance.

You do not currently have access to this chapter

Sign in

Please sign in to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription