Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Sherman, Lawrence W.: Defiance Theory
Criminological theory and criminal justice policy have long focused on the relationship between sanctions and criminal behavior. Deterrence and labeling are two major theoretical traditions that emphasize sanctions as a key explanatory factor, providing contradictory predictions of the impact of those sanctions on behavior. Deterrence theorists predict that sanctions, especially those which are swift, certain, and proportionally severe, will deter or reduce further criminal behavior. Additionally, criminal justice policy is often predicated on the assumption that sanctions deter offenders. Labeling theory, on the other hand, predicts that sanctions will stigmatize the offender, producing increased offending (i.e., secondary deviance) in the future. The empirical evidence supporting either deterrence or labeling has been mixed. Recognizing this diversity in the effects of sanctions, Lawrence W. Sherman has argued that the apparent pattern of sanction effects observed in existing research exhibits two themes. First, the impact of sanctions appears to depend on perceptions of ...