Discussion Focal Concerns in Winter’s Bone

On pages 11-13 of CrimComics: Subcultural Theories, you read about Walter Miller and his research on gangs. Gehring says that “[c]ontrary to what several scholars at the time believed (like Cohen, and Cloward and Ohlin discussed later), Miller did not believe that youth in lower income areas joined gangs as an adaptation to not ‘making it’ in mainstream culture. Miller believed that gang members were adolescents engaging in the normal behaviors of their communities. He asserted that lower-class culture as a wholenot subcultures within lower-class areasis responsible for generating criminality in urban areas. He saw evidence that supported a distinctive lower-class cultural system characterized by a set of six focal concerns” (p. 12).

The six focal concerns are:

Trouble
Toughness
Smartness
Excitement
Fate
Autonomy
For this assignment, you will apply Miller’s focal concerns to criminality in the rural area depicted in Winter’s Bone (2010), the film you watched for subcultural theories. The film, directed by Debra Granik, follows Ree Dolly as she cares for her family and searches for her father in a poverty-stricken area of the Ozarks of Missouri. Using a particular character, scene, or plot element, discuss how trouble, toughness, smartness, excitement, fate, or autonomy is used to demonstrate how the lower-class cultural system influences crime and other behaviors you observe in Winter’s Bone.

Choose one of the six focal concerns and be specific and detailed in your discussion.

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