“By social labelling, we’re referring to the tag society gives a particular behaviour in order to make sense of it. In other words, society interprets the action and tags it with a motivation â€“ for all to see â€“ that it considers consistent with the behaviour. This means your individual behaviour can carry a social tag independently of the internal tag you may assign it. The big difference is that the social tag is visible to everyone.
Where this gets interesting is that these social tags can be applied to make sense of the behaviour, but they don’t need to reflect the original motivation. So choosing to take the train rather than the car could be driven at the individual level by a desire to be able to read and make phone calls on the way. But society can publicly tag this behaviour as being pro-environmental in motivation. And society can applaud that motivation.”
The concept of of social labelling could lead to a subconscious change in behaviour, Guy Champniss writes in The Guardian.