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Crime Propensity in Collective and individualistic Societies: A cross-culture comparison between China and the UK



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Xun, Xiaoya 


Are the causes of youth crime the same in Western and Eastern countries? Western research based on Situational Action Theory (SAT) has demonstrated that young people’s crime involvement varies by their law-relevant personal morals and ability to exercise self-control (seen as the main sources of people’s crime propensity). The overall aim of this study is to test the cross-cultural generalisability of this core finding from Western research by exploring whether crime propensity, as conceptualised by SAT, can help explain (i) differences in crime involvement among Chinese youths, and (ii) the low level of youth crime in China (compared to what is typically found in Western countries). The thesis is based on a replication of the Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Developmental Study (PADS+) in the Chinese city of Anyi, and compares the findings from the two studies concerning the relationship between morality, self-control and offending at the ages 14-16. With three years' longitudinal research data following 588 young people, this is the first longitudinal study in China on youth and crime. The five main aims and findings of the research are 1. Testing, through an analysis of measurement models, whether the key employed measures of morality and self-control works cross-nationally, i.e., both in the UK and China (the findings show they do); 2. Testing whether morality and self-control predict variation in crime involvement in both countries (the findings show they do); 3. Assessing whether the lower level of crime involvement in China coincides with stronger morality and self-control, supporting the idea that the levels of morality and self-control in the population are an important factor in explaining aggregate levels of young people’s crime involvement (the findings support this assumption).





Wikström, Per-Olof


Situational Action Theory, Juvenile delinquency, China, UK


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge