Crime and the Chinese Dream Research Workshop

Tue 25 Jul 2017 4:30pm6:30pm
Registration: 
21 June 201724 July 2017

Venue

Sir Harry Gibbs Moot Court (W247)
Level 2, Forgan Smith Building
The University of Queensland
St Lucia

"Crime and the Chinese Dream. Voices from the Margins"

TC Beirne School of Law academic Dr Enshen Li will host a Research Workshop on Crime and the Chinese Dream. Invited speaker Professor Børge Bakken will discuss his new book “Crime and the Chinese Dream” which will be published by Hong Kong University Press later this year. The book addresses the general problems of Chinese crime in the new millennia. Issues covered include ongoing everyday corruption continuing to target the weak in the shadows of the politicized anti-corruption campaigns, the emergence of a virtual criminal entrepreneurial economy in the countryside, illegal strategies of getting by among migrant workers in the cities, and the situation among detained drug addicts and the moral panics about juveniles represented by boot-camps for alleged “internet addicts.”

Børge Bakken is a Visiting Fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University and was the first Morrison Fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World in 2014-15. He was Director of the Social Science Program in Criminology from 2008 to 2012 and professor of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author and editor of many books and articles relating to social problems, crime, and culture in China and has also published extensively on issues of policing and punishment.

The talk is introducing our book “Crime and the Chinese Dream” which will be published by Hong Kong University Press later this year. The book is edited by me and is based on extensive fieldwork in China conducted by six of my former students from Hong Kong University, now scholars in four different countries. I will also talk to the general problems of Chinese crime in the new millennia. Instead of the official myth of a “low crime” country, China is today haunted by a much higher crime rate than that published in official statistics.  

Some of our arguments are identical to the famous book “Crime and the American Dream”. Robert Merton’ strain theory argued as early as in 1938 that people who were excluded from achieving the American Dream by legal means would turn to illegal means to achieve the overarching cultural norm of getting rich. The story repeats itself in China today, a country with one of the highest GINI coefficients of relative inequality in the world at 0.61. The poor are excluded from the dreams of prosperity in America as well as in China whether they are poor blacks or poor migrant workers. Still the “Chinese Dream” is said in Xi’s propaganda speeches to be the dream of the laobaixing – the common man. We look at ongoing everyday corruption continuing to target the weak in the shadows of the politicized anti-corruption campaigns, on the emergence of a virtual criminal entrepreneurial economy in the countryside, on illegal strategies of getting by among migrant workers in the cities, and on the situation among detained drug addicts and the moral panics about juveniles represented by boot-camps for alleged “internet addicts.” The excluded remain excluded and develop illegal strategies to get by and get rich. These are all strategies of survival among the excluded. History repeats itself.