Social:Focal concerns theory

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In criminology, the focal concerns theory, posited in 1962 by Walter B. Miller, attempts to explain the behavior of "members of adolescent street corner groups in lower class communities" as concern for six focal concerns: trouble, toughness, smartness, excitement, fate, autonomy.[1] Miller described these focal concerns as "areas or issues which command widespread and persistent attention and a high degree of emotional involvement."[2] Miller's theory, as it is often referred to, views these criminogenic influences as a learned part of the lower-class subculture values.[3] In essence, the theory suggests that delinquency is in fact part of the learned cultural values rather than an anomic reaction to unattainable goals.

See also

  • Core values
  • David Matza
  • Sentencing disparity
  • Social values
  • Uncertainty avoidance


  1. Gennaro F. Vito, Jeffrey R. Maahs, Ronald M. Holmes (2006). Criminology: theory, research, and policy (2, illustrated ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers. pp. 162. ISBN 978-0-7637-3001-7. 
  2. B. Miller, Walter (1958). "Lower-class Culture as a Generating Milieu of Gang Delinquency". Journal of Social Issues 14: 5–19. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1958.tb01413.x. 
  3. Hagan, Frank E. (2007). Introduction to Criminology: Theories, Methods, and Criminal Behavior (6, illustrated ed.). SAGE. ISBN 978-1-4129-5365-8. 


  • Cohen, Albert. Delinquent Boys (New York: Free press, 1995) pg. 19–25
  • Miller, Walter. "Lower-class Culture as a Generating Milieu of Gang Delinquency," Journal of Social Issues 14 (1958): 5–19
  • Flowers, Barri R. The Adolescent Criminal: An Examination of Today's Juvenile Offender. McFarland & Company, Inc. 108–109

Further reading

  • M. Wolfgang, Franco Ferracuti, ed (2003). The Subculture of Violence (reprint ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-26410-5. 
  • David Duffee, Edward R. Maguire (2007). Criminal justice theory: explaining the nature and behavior of criminal justice (illustrated ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-95480-8. 
  • Frank, James., Stoddard, Cody., Engel, Robin. and Haas, Stephen. "Through the Court's Eyes: A New Look at Focal Concerns Theory" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology (ASC), Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA, Nov 01, 2006 <Not Available>. 2009-05-24 <>

External links concerns theory was the original source. Read more.

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