Becker, Howard S.

Becker, Howard S.

(1928-) US sociologist whose work within the SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONIST tradition has made an important contribution to the study of student culture, LABELLING THEORY and the SOCIOLOGY OF ART. His most influential works are Boys in White: Student Culture in a Medical World (with Blanche Geer, Everett Hughes and Anselm Strauss, 1961), Making the Grade (with Blanche Geer and Everett Hughes, 1968), Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (1963) and Sociological Work (1970). While focusing on the behaviour of individuals in groups and organizations, Becker's treatment of these was uncompromisingly sociological. The responses of individuals, e.g. to medical treatment, are seen as depending far less ‘on the individual psychology of patients than on the relations between the healers and the sick. The actions of deviants stem less from their personalities than from the interactions between them, other deviants, and agents of social control’. See also DEVIANCE, HIERARCHY OF CREDIBILITY, MAKING THE GRADE, DRUG TAKING FOR PLEASURE.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000