Walter B. Miller’s Theory on Lower Class Essay

In this paper, the researcher will identify which focal concern, as described by Walter B. Miller`s theory on lower-class culture, is believed by the researcher to most contribute to delinquency. The answer will be supported by examples. To conclude, the researcher will respond to another answer that disagrees with the researcher’s opinion, explaining why the original opinion should be supported and why the opposing opinion should be refuted. Focal Concerns of Miller’s Theory Walter B.

Miller’s Theory on Lower Class Culture, in an attempt to explain the problem of criminal activity and more specifically deliquency, holds in one specific area of the theory that many criminals are created by environment, having grown up in a lower socioeconomic class which at best allows and at worst promotes criminal activity (Wolfgang, et al, 1962).

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For the purposes of this paper, the researcher agrees that this aspect of lower-class culture contributes most to delinquency.

Miller’s theory is in alignment with the classic “nurture versus nature” argument to explain the development of the deliquent individual, meaning that criminal minds are formed by the forces of their environment, rather than simply being chemically programmed as a function of the anatomy of the human brain.

Much like lower animal life forms are trained to behave in a certain way, the criminal originally becomes a criminal because he or she is in effect “trained” to behave in that way.

The reasons for this sort of criminal culture, as cited by Miller include economic disadvantage among certain ethnic groups and the like, but there are also solid examples to support his assertions and to reinforce the researcher’s position. Evidence to Support the Position From a technical standpoint, studies and statistics clearly show that by and large, the majority of deliquency, and subsequent criminal activity, is originated in the lower classes of society, as opposed to the middle or upper classes, as defined by income, employment levels, etc (Cohn, et al, 1998).

Interestingly, adding to the strength of the argument made in this paper, the crimes committed by lower classes are more frequent and violent in nature, giving further proof that these individuals are literally raised to become criminals, as criminality is a part of their everyday culture and lifestyle, especially during their formative years when morals and values are established in the individual (Wolfgang, et al, 1962).

Simply put, the argument of Miller, that criminals are created, particularly in lower-class environments because of the tolerance and even support of criminal activities in their communities is agreed to by the researcher and backed up by secondary sources. However, there are those who hold a contrasting view, which will now be discussed. Disagreement With the Researcher’s Position In opposition to the researcher’s argument is the assertion that criminals become what they are because of biological factors, supporting the “nature” element of nature versus nurture.

While this admittedly may occur in extreme cases, the studies on the topic largely refute this claim, and in fact, sources indicate that those in middle or upper class environments are less likely to indulge in criminality (Shostak, et al, 1964). This evidence, as is apparent, has existed for decades. Conclusion In closing, let it be understood that evidence exists to support the argument that criminal activity is created due to lower class environments that advocate such behavior in an overwhelming majority of the cases.


Cohn, E. G. , Farrington, D. P. , & Wright, R. A. (1998). Evaluating Criminology and Criminal Justice. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Shostak, A. B. & Gomberg, W. (Eds. ). (1964). Blue-Collar World: Studies of the American Worker. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Wolfgang, M. E. , Savitz, L. , & Johnston, N. (Eds. ). (1962). The Sociology of Crime and Delinquency. New York: John Wiley and Sons. Word Count The word count for this essay is 578 words, excluding References and this section of the paper.

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