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deviance amplification

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Introduced by Leslie Wilkins in his book Social Deviance (1967), the concept suggests that a small initial deviation may spiral into ever-increasing significance through processes of labelling and over-reacting. It was initially linked to cybernetics and feedback loops, but was used most extensively within the labelling theory of deviance. However, by far the most systematic defence and application of the theory will be found in Jason Ditton's Controlology (1979), a critique of ‘half-hearted’ labelling theories which attempts ‘to extend Wilkins's model to the point at which control may be seen to be operating independently of crime (rather than within a mutually causal framework) on the basis that such liberation will constitute an adequate prepositional basis for a fully-fledged labelling theory’.

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