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May 9, 2018 / C H Thompson

Subcultural theories of crime – revision notes with evaluative points


Miller (1962) came up with the idea of focal concerns. This is where the lower classes create their own subculture with its own goals, norms and values, rather than working towards mainstream goals.

Miller argued that the working-class never accepted the mainstream goals and aren’t reacting as a rebellion, but they’re acting in a way that is acceptable within their subculture. These focal concerns are:

  • Trouble -> life involves violence
  • Toughness -> men fight and drink etc.
  • Excitement ->always looking out for fun

These focal concerns mean that it is inevitable that crime will be committed as in order to achieve these goals/values, they have to turn to a life of crime.

Evaluation of Miller

 (+) Provides an alternative argument against the other subcultural theorists who say that criminals are just rebelling or acting in a response to status frustration -> it provides a less reductionist view on subculture crime and deviance.

(-) It is an American study that is also from 1962, and therefore may not be able to be generalised to modern British society -> However Parker fully applied to British society


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