Interactionist Perspectives

Interactionist perspectives in sociology, including criminology, focus on the interactions between individuals and the meanings they assign to social situations and behaviours. These perspectives emphasise the importance of social interaction, symbolic communication, and subjective interpretations in shaping human behaviour and social phenomena. In the context of criminology, interactionist perspectives provide valuable insights into the processes of labelling, social control, and the construction of deviance.

Labelling theory: Labelling theory, also known as societal reaction theory, examines how the application of labels to individuals or groups as deviant or criminal influences their subsequent behaviour and social interactions. According to labelling theorists, the labelling process can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, where individuals internalise and conform to the expectations and stereotypes associated with their labeled status. This theory emphasises the significance of social reactions, stigmatisation, and the power dynamics in shaping criminal identities and patterns of behaviour.

Differential association theory: Differential association theory, developed by Edwin Sutherland, highlights the role of socialisation and interaction in the transmission of criminal behaviour. It suggests that individuals learn criminal attitudes, values, and techniques through their interactions with others, particularly within intimate social groups. The theory emphasises the importance of social relationships, peer influence, and the processes of reinforcement and imitation in shaping criminal behaviour.

Phenomenological perspectives: Phenomenological perspectives in criminology focus on the subjective experiences and interpretations of individuals involved in criminal activities. These perspectives explore how individuals perceive and make sense of their actions, the meanings they attach to their behaviours, and the situational contexts that influence their decision-making processes. Phenomenological approaches seek to understand the lived experiences of offenders, victims, and other actors in the criminal justice system to provide insights into their motivations, rationalisations, and interactions.

Ethnomethodology: Ethnomethodology examines the methods and practices through which individuals construct and maintain social order in everyday life. It explores how individuals use shared understandings, social norms, and taken-for-granted assumptions to navigate social interactions and make sense of their social environments. Ethnomethodological studies in criminology may analyse the ways in which individuals account for their deviant actions, the strategies they employ to maintain their social identities, and the negotiation of norms within criminal subcultures.

Interactionist perspectives offer valuable insights into the social processes that contribute to the understanding of crime, deviance, and the criminal justice system. They highlight the significance of subjective meanings, social interactions, and the social construction of reality in shaping individual behaviour and societal responses to crime. By focusing on the lived experiences of individuals and the social dynamics of interaction, these perspectives contribute to a more nuanced understanding of crime and its social implications.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham
ESSEC Business School

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.