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The "Wetback" as Deviant: An Application of Labeling Theory

Jorge A. Bustamante
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 77, No. 4 (Jan., 1972), pp. 706-718
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2776755
Page Count: 13
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The "Wetback" as Deviant: An Application of Labeling Theory
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Abstract

This paper deals with some of the questions that arise from the deviant character of those who cross the U.S.-Mexico border without inspection, and the process of interaction through wich the label "wetback" is "created" and used. The historical context of immigration to the United States as related to cheap labor demands is described, and the emergence of the label "wetback" is discussed. The roles of the persons involved in the violation of the immigration law and some of the socioeconomic implications of those roles are analyzed through labeling theory. The process of interaction in which those roles become visible is discussed in terms of the interests, power, and consequences of each role with respect to those of the other roles in the process. The concept of "antilaw entrepreneur" is introduced, and its explanatory potential is indicated.

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