Reviewing Crime In The United States And China Criminology Essay

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Distinctive sociological patterns, particularly formula for American dream, strong emphasis on monetary success and weak emphasis on legitimate means of achieving success are the underlying factors behind high crime rate in America (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007). On the other hand, westernization, decreased social integrity, the notion of getting rich being glorious and modernization at expense of communalism are factors directly attributed to increasing crime rate in China (Zhang and Messenr, 2001).

Factors that Have Led to Increased Crime in China

One of the factors leading to increased crime rate in China is Modernization capitalist economy. While economic and technological modernization are the supreme politics of the new era in China, reforms in ideology, organization, work methods and systems are seen as essential to bringing political superstructure into alignment with rapidly growing forces of production. Modernization is responsible for vast changing social and economic systems in China. It has brought so much hope and enthusiasm in China's economic development in the fields of agriculture, science and technology, national defense and industry in China (Zhang and Messenr, 2001).

Another factor is China's communist political system. For many years, China has been governed by unique peasant socialism, a system which has been faced by a striking contradiction of reform era for the last three decades. China has experienced continuing social and economic reforms which have embraced a communist political system that insists on adherence to both the existing political system as well as to continuous economic reform. Consequently, a legal dualism exists in China, whereby public law devaluating China's criminal process lags behind private law (Zhang and Messenr, 2001).

Introduction of western values in China cannot be ignored for increased crime rates. In the old Chinese society, Chinese traditions determined people's behavior. There was swift punishment on those who failed to conform to traditions (Zhang and Messenr, 2001). However, China's social equilibrium has been disturbed by introduction of western culture that has rendered the old rules ineffective. This has resulted to conflict between the law and morals, whereby crime is viewed as a practical way of making a real living and a positive reaction to social disorganization (Zhang and Messenr, 2001).

Western culture that has taken over China insists on materialism rather than socialism. Chinese now believe that getting rich is glorious and have resolved to use crime to get material wealth (Zhang and Messenr, 2001).

Main Types of Crime in China

Crimes experienced in China are mainly bribery and corruption, property crimes, violent crimes and white collar crimes which are crimes committed by respectable and high social status people like the politicians (Zhang and Messenr, 2001).

Anomie and Strain theory

Increasing levels of crime in China can be explained by amonie and strain theory developed by Messner and Rosenfeld (2007). The theory is commonly referred to as the "American Dream". It entails commitment to material success, which should be pursued by all people, in a mass society dominated by huge multinational corporations. Anomie theory emphasizes on seeking the most efficient way to achieve economic success. Crime has been viewed as the most efficient way to achieve economic success, while beliefs, values, and commitments are casual variables which can be ignored (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007).

Strain theory on the other hand assumes uniform economic aspirations across social class. It perceives crime to be more rampant among people of lower classes who unfortunately have very few legitimate opportunities for achievement, more vulnerable to cultural and social pressure and will aspire to maintain their unfulfilled economic aspirations despite their frustrations or failure. Most of them turn to crime (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007).

Crime Control Measures in China

In China, law is viewed as flexible, changeable and secondary to collectively held fundamental moral principles. It is the last resort when a criminal can no longer be cured by moral reasoning or as last line of defense for the society when a person has committed heinous crime against community. Chinese government controls crime with formal law enforcement and informal social control mechanisms. This involves modernized, effective criminal justice system and several community prevention organizations at grass-root level (Zhang and Messenr, 2001).

Crime in United States

The American Dream

High suites crime, gun and homicide crime are a normal by product of U.S. social institutions and cultural beliefs. They contend that cultural ethos embodied in American dream drives high rates of serious, white collar crimes and corresponding punitive social response. The nature of the American dream breeds and supports the occurrence of high crime levels through its emphasis on achievement, universalism, individualism, and fetishism of money (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007).

According to the salient American dream, money is everything. Monetary success has been emphasized as an integral measure of individual's success. This motivates the Americans to use any available methods in striving for individual material success, including crime. Despite the fact that there are other values besides monetary success that also compete for attention and validation of the Americans, it is evidently clear that the structure of American culture favors supremacy of monetary success. With such values, weak social controls, wide spread of anomie and ultimately high criminal cases are inevitable because ends do not justify the means (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007).

Capitalism and pursuit of American dream are the root cause of crime in America. This is mainly because the institutions which create free market, economy, education, religion and family in the American society lack balance. The materialistic element of the American dream emphasizes on monetary success and achievements (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007).

The nature of American dream and institutional dominance in America are mutually supporting and reinforcing towards an amonie environment. Major fraud cases and business corruption cases pop up frequently. American non economic goals, positions and roles are devaluated relative to the ends and means of economic activity (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007).

Modern Nation and Anomie Theories

Increase in crime rate in America can be explained by modern nation and anomie theories, which put more emphasis on material prosperity regardless of the method used to attain such wealth. This is in pursuit of the American dream (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007).

Crime Control Based on Incarceration

U.S. uses the law to punish offenders. They have a well defines modern criminal justice system to deal with criminals. However, incarceration method of crime control has not lead to reduced crime rate. US have the highest documented incarceration rate as well as the largest number of documented prison and jail population in the world, but crime rate is still high (Messner and Rosenfeld, 2007).


This research has revealed some similarities in nature of factors that have led to increased crime rates in America and in China. It is evidently clear that both the American dream in America and the westernization in China are responsible for increasing crime levels in the two countries. These two factors, as explained by amonie theory encourage material success at the expense of society norms and values.

However, although Americans have well defined methods of controlling crime such as incarceration and modernized, effective criminal justice system, their counterparts in China mainly emphasizes on informal social crime control at grass-root rather than the western sense of law.