The role of legal stigmatization in the enhancement of treatment goals for problem drinkers

Roger G Dunham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Traditionally, labeling theory has neglected the active capacity of labeled individuals: The capacity to respond in several different ways to a stigmatizing label. Several writers have dealt with this issue, yet there is little data dealing with alternative responses to a stigmatizing label. This research tests the hypothesis that stigmatizing labels (in the form of legal intervention) can result in conventionalizing the problem drinker's behavior, and further tests two conditions deemed necessary before the hypothesis will be valid. The overall proposition—that stigmatizing labels can result in conventionalizing behavior—was supported by this research. The first condition—that the change agent responsible for the promotion of behavior change must be an ex‐practitioner of the relevant deviance and an identifiable role model for the client—was also supported. Finally, the second condition—that membership in the behavior‐changing group must be voluntary—was invalidated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-266
Number of pages10
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science


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