Secondary deviance is a stage in a theory of deviant identity formation. Lemert (1967) conceptualized primary deviance as engaging in the initial act of deviance and then posited secondary deviance as the stage in which one internalizes a deviant identity by integrating it into their self-concept.
Everyone commits primary acts of deviance, but rarely think of ourselves as criminals. When someone commits an offense of a more serious nature, then one is likely to be labeled, internalize the label, and act out accordingly in future criminal behavior (situations we define as real become real in their consequences).
- Lemert, Edwin. 1967. Human Deviance, Social Problems and Social Control. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
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