I receive a lot of e-mail from students, who want a great variety of information. This little note furnishes all the information I can give you on the most commonly brought-up topics.

For some reason, many people feel they cannot write the papers assigned to them without knowing all the facts of my birth. So: I was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 18, 1928. (I will just mention that this is the date of the Great Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco in 1906. Make what you will of that.)

Many of you tell me that you “have to write a paper” about me and, usually, about my “theory of labeling.” You ask that I explain this theory to you, and occasionally tell me that you have not been able “to find anything about it” on the Internet and I think that that’s correct, there isn’t anything on the Internet about it.

I said everything I have to say about labeling theory in my book, Outsiders. This book is available in most university and college libraries and is almost certainly in your library if your teacher has told you to write about it. (It is also for sale through Amazon and many local bookstores.) I have nothing to add to what I said in that book. I’m not a criminologist, although you may have gotten this assignment in a criminology class, and have not worked in this field for a very long time. Other people have written about it, but I don’t keep track of that and cannot give you a bibliography. You can try Sociological Abstracts for other references.

Similarly, I cannot help you apply labeling theory to some special topic that your teacher has assigned to you. I suppose that your teacher did that as an exercise which would help you understand the ideas by applying them to some specific area.

If any of this seems strange or unfeeling to you, please talk to your teacher about it. Especially the people who have written me saying that they have no idea where to find the answers they are looking for. You should be able to get help with this from the teacher who gave you the assignment. Print this page out and show it to them.

If you have read the book and have specific questions that are unanswered after thinking it over, and after looking in Sociological Abstracts for other discussions, please write to me. Keep in mind that I have other things to do, am often away and not getting my e-mail, and so can’t undertake to answer questions or engage in discussion in time for you to prepare a paper to meet a deadline or to prepare for an exam that is coming up soon.