Guanxi and Fear of Crime in Contemporary Urban China

L Zhang, S. F Messner, J Liu and Y. A. Zhuo

British Journal of Criminology, 2009, 49(4), 472-490. DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azp016


Western research has investigated individual correlates of fear of crime with a primary focus on people's vulnerability. This vulnerability model examines the possible effects on fear of indicators of people's physical vulnerability (e.g. age and gender) and social vulnerability (e.g. income and education). As is well documented in the research on China, guanxi is a unique aspect of social capital in Chinese society. The present study argues that guanxi in the immediate neighbourhood is an important indicator of the social vulnerability of individuals in urban China. We accordingly hypothesize that residents who have strong neighbourhood guanxi are less likely to be fearful of crime. This hypothesis is assessed with data collected from a recent survey in the city of Tianjin, China. The results of multilevel analysis show that guanxi in the neighbourhood is a significant predictor of fear of crime in contemporary urban China when other important factors are controlled.

ASCI-ID: 975-32