Walter Miller believes that this lower class group has for centuries possessed their own culture and traditions with a fundamentally different from those in the higher class. This suggests that this lower class culture has been passed on for many generations. He has broken his focal concerns down into six parts.
Toughness, smartness, excitement, fate and trouble (Riveron). Toughness in the lower class culture represents a combination of things. The most important aspect is physical toughness showed by the possession of strength and endurance in athletics. 5% of males in the lower class come from female based households with little to no male presence. The males can be sensitive and not fight, but must fake it while in the streets.
They can’t back down or show fear, the men show an exaggeration of masculinity(Goode 106). Smartness is the aspect of mental toughness. You must be able to outwit and con others, but also have the ability to be able to know when someone is trying to con you. This requires the male to have mental quickness over physicality. With smartness comes the area of “the dirty dozens” which means you should be able to take part in a mutual insult interchange with your peer group(Goode 107).
Excitement can also be referred to as“flirting with danger. ” They find this in alcohol, gambling, playing cards, betting on horses and dice(Goode 108). It is an emotional reaction to a change in routine, essentially, taking things from your neighborhood and bringing them to another. Fate is where they believe that little can be done about their lives, they take it as being lucky or in luck, and unlucky or jinxed(Goode 108). The lower class males can feel larger events in life are governed by forces outside, beyond their control. To try and alter this “fate” they play games of chance, such as the lotto.
They also part take in “luck changing rituals” in hopes of giving them luck, for example, picking up a penny on heads because it is said that it is lucky. Trouble has a range of meanings; trouble in one of its aspects represents a situation or a kind of behavior which results in unwelcome or complicating involvement with official authorities or agencies of middle class society(Goode 104). This means trouble is about provoking agents of larger society and to not get caught doing so, but if you are caught you are expected to “take it like a man. ”It is important to note that the choice between“law-abiding” and “non-law-abiding” behavior is still a choice within lower class culture(Goode 105-106). Finally autonomy, which is the extent and nature of control over the behavior of the individual.
This focal concern carries over from mental toughness, the male is self-governed and fiercely independent. It is an “no one’s gonna push me around” attitude(Goode 109). Carlito’s Way is a movie directed by Brian De Palma which displays Miller’s focal concerns. Al Pacino plays Carlito Brigante, a convicted criminal who, thanks to the assistance of his lawyer Dave Kleinfeld, has had his 30-year prison sentence overturned on a technicality. But as Carlito gets back onto the streets of 1975 New York, he realizes that five years in jail is still an awfully long time for a once respected and feared gangster. Fashions have changed.
Music has changed. There’s a new generation of criminal on the streets, which is as arrogant and aggressive as Carlito was back in his day. Carlito resolves to go straight, but fate conspires against him. His cousin is killed in a drug deal gone wrong, and his opportunistic way of getting a considerable amount k of cash allows him to get a local nightclub, but also puts him back on the radar of the local lowlifes. Meanwhile, Carlito’s sense of loyalty leaves him feeling in debt to Kleinfeld, who’s become involved with a world of coke and corruption during Carlito’s time in.
An attempt to bust an Italian mobster out of prison goes wrong, just as Carlito plans to retreat to the Caribbean with his lover Gail. The focal concern of toughness sticks out the most to me while watching the movie. Carlito wants to be straight but can not show that in the streets, he doesn’t want people thinking he has gone soft. He refuses to back down to fear and shows bravery during dangerous times, especially during the drug deal. He also shows the focal concern of toughness when it comes to the love of his life, Gail. He is sensitive towards her with his actions, and even in his tone of voice.
But once Carlito is in the streets with his fellow gangsters, he shows the exaggerated masculinity. Carlito also shows “toughness” when he agrees to go with his cousin to make his drug deal. His cousin kept repeating how people wouldn’t mess with him, and people would respect him if he walked in with “a legend. This showed the focal concern of toughness, because Carlito needed to live up to his reputation. As a part of subcultural theory, Miller saw the lower working class socialized into deviant subcultural values which he called “focal concerns.
” Miller does not see the deviant behavior occurring due to the inability of the lower class groups to achieve success. He explains crime in the sense of the existence of a distinctive lower class subculture (Riveron).
Goode, Erich. “Lower Class Culture as a Generating Milieu of Gang Delinquency.
” Social Deviance. Upper Saddle River: Allyn and Bacon, 1996. 104-112. Print. Riveron, Claudia.
“Miller’s 6 Focal Concerns . ” John Jay College, . 26 Feb. 2015. Lecture.