Theory analysis Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

Becker’s labeling theory sex work (exchange of sexual services for money) 6

Becker is labeling theory sex work (exchange of sexual services for money)

Course name and number

Becker is labeling theory sex work (exchange of sexual services for money)


Surveys done on the field of sex workers everywhere has shown that most sex workers enter the field voluntarily and are not forced into the forced by any person or situation. Most of the sex workers also probably enter the field from another form of labor-intensive occupation like domestic work and construction work, Paulo Longo Research Initiative (2011). They also view their current work as a form of labor-intensive occupation. The same survey indicated that most of them came from poor families, and over fifty percent of them came from rural areas.

In many areas of the society, these people have received quite a lot of labels and stereotypes. These have not always been fair to them or courteous. In a way, though, the labeling theories achieved what they set out to do in the first place. Classes of the acts may not appear deviant to the people who watch them. The difference in the label although, determines what the actors and the audiences do in the long run, Becker (2010). Then the labeling theory will have created a perspective of looking at the actor in such a way that will define them but is this always fair when considering those given to the sex workers.

There are various theories that criticize Becker’s theory nonetheless. Some state that the theory neglects the concept of deviation, Downes and Rock (1979). It is not truly good in describing the central part of deviance such as murder. This is a classic example of primary deviance. It also has problems describing certain forms of sexual deviancy like pedophilia, which in some element is psychological. Many authors share this perspective along with public opinion that feels that most forms of deviancy are related some form of abnormal psychology.


The social reaction or labeling theory, as it is known developed over time and goes back to the twentieth century in 1938, Jarn (2008). The theory currently proposes that when a person commits a crime then they receive the label criminal. When the person gets the label from the society, they are likely to accept it as a new part of who they are in the whole scheme. Because they got this label from everyone else, they are now likely to continue on this course of behavior. In this case, the sex worker is likely to go on with the activity since they now accept it as part of which they are and in the scheme of things will accept the term prostitute. This is to refer to any woman, or male nowadays that is over the age of consent and willingly accepts money for sexual services.

According to various definitions of the term prostitution, it encompasses a variety of things. The term includes lap dancers porn actors as well as ‘call girls’. These are a variety of occupations, but they fall under the same bracket. The term is derogatory according to members of the sex industry saying that it implies someone that is dirty like a whore. They now prefer the term sex worker because it sounds more professional like a person in a legitimate business practice, European Parliament (2001). The term originated from sex workers themselves seeking to dissociate from the social and psychological aspects that are related to the trade by the outside world.

As a result, the sex industry goes to include various other individuals including masseurs, telephone operators, and men who sell sex. The implication that sex workers are connected to sex traffic is a myth, although, this many people do not know this fact. Many individuals in the industry appreciate their work and are happy with their lifestyle. Sex workers are misunderstood in this respect. Trafficking and sex trafficking in this respect is decidedly different, in the respect that it is not consensual on the part of the sex worker. It is also illegal everywhere, The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (2011).

The legalizing of sex work and the de-stereotyping of the profession will ensure the sex workers can go to the proper authorities if they feel the need to report abuse they can also seek advice from medical health providers. However, there is a variety of describing concepts involved with the payment for sexual acts. Rather these are issues that the people be doing this might have that could be traced back to emotional triggers, Recovery Nation (2009). This could be low self-esteem or intimacy issues as well as relationship anxiety. The willingness to pay for such services offers a safety net for the consumer such that they do not need to worry about rejection, humiliation, or performance to the other partner.

The other trigger for this is that the individual does not want to invest their time, and energy in an affair so they opt for paying for services up front to get what they want. It is, therefore, convenient for a multitude of people. Howard Becker hails as the founder of the labeling theory, and his work pays a lot of attention to the way that the society treats people that they place with criminal labels. According to his suggestions, this label becomes more than just part of the individual; it becomes who they are in the whole picture.

His theory suggests that there is no act criminally inherent, (Wellford 1975). The theory also claims that, for a criminal to get a label from the society, the audience must provide an appropriated reaction to the crimes that the criminal committed.


If this translates to the sex industry, this means that, none of the sex workers inherently has the gene to get into the sex industry from genetics. Secondly, the society must provide a reaction, and label the sex worker a certain name before it becomes a part of who they are and they accept the designation. This theory appears to apply to the sex industry, though, this is because of the stigma, and the lack of open mindedness concerned with the subject. The sex workers remain in the same classification as criminals and thus the theory originally meant for the criminals.


Becker. H.S; (2010), ‘10 Labeling Theory Reconsidered’ drug text foundation, retrieved on May

9, 2011 from <>

Downes D and Rock P (1979) Deviant Interpretations: problems in criminological theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press

European Parliament (2001), Definitions, Sex Worker and Sex Industry, retrieved on May 9,

2011 from <>

Jarn,(2008), ‘Social Reaction (Labeling) Theory: Pros, Cons, and Effects On Society’ article alley, retrieved on May 9, 2011 from <>

Paulo Longo Research Initiative, (2011), ‘Majority of female sex workers join the trade

voluntarily-survey says’ retrieved on May 9, 2011 from < survey-says>

Recovery nation (2009), Assessing Prostitution, Recovery Workshop, retrieved on May 9, 2011 from <>

The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, (2011), Sex Work, 250 Main Street the Grant Building, Pawtucket, RI 02860, retrieved on May 9, 2011 from <>

Wellford, C. (1975), Labeling Theory and Criminology: An Assessment. Social Problems, Vol. 22, No. 3, 332-345.