A common complaint about the sociology of deviance, particularly the perspective known as labeling theory or the societal reaction perspective, is that the field is dead. However, considerable evidence suggests that the core themes of societal reaction work live on in several areas of contemporary scholarship. After identifying and describing three key strands of the early societal reaction perspective, I consider how those strands are reflected in more recent work, much of which does not explicitly reference the earlier tradition. I identify the ways that recent scholarship builds upon and yet extends the earlier societal reaction tradition. I close by describing three trajectories emerging in recent work that should focus future inquiry: the contingent effects of labeling, the causes of gaps between social control discourse and practice, and the diffusion of social control practices from deviants to nondeviants.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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