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British Journal of Criminology
Year: 2009  |  Volume: 49  |  Issue: 4  |  Page No.: 491 - 512

The Robbery of Motorcycle Taxi Drivers (Dake Zai) in China: A Lifestyle/Routine Activity Perspective and Beyond

J. Xu    


Using official police records, interviews with motorcycle taxi drivers and the participant observation of their working activities in Tianzhi city, China, this paper examines how and why a dimension of social stratification—household registration (hukou)—is related to the risk of robbery victimization and attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of applying lifestyle/routine activity theory to contemporary urban China. It discloses that migrant motorcycle taxi drivers are highly overrepresented in robbery victimization. Their night-time working practices enhance their chances of being robbed by both increasing exposure to likely offenders and reducing the presence of capable guardians. The study further explores how a structural factor—motorcycle ban policy—shapes different routine activities between migrant and resident motorcycle taxi drivers and, by extension, differential risks of robbery victimization. The paper concludes by pointing out the importance of locating lifestyle/routine activities in a larger Chinese macro-social structural context. The outcome is one of the very first ethnographic analyses of crime conducted in situ in China.

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