'Neither Immigrants nor Citizens' Constructing Citizenship Values in a Transnational Context for Hong Kong’s Ethnic Minority Students?

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal focuses on “the limits of citizenship” (Soysal, 1994) in a transnational context. It draws on research developed from the “new institutionalism” by adopting a theoretical framework that views institutions as major influences on attitudes. Social identity theory is also be used to acknowledge the agency of individuals in responding to the institutional contexts in which they are embedded. The focus of the research is Hong Kong’s ethnic minority students where previously the emphasis has been on micro issues of educational provision. The current proposal seeks to locate ethnic minority students in a broader macro social and institutional context. It will assess students’ responses to that context in terms of their attitudes to citizenship as well as their social identities. This is a trajectory approach: from macro to micro, from structure to agency. It seeks to understand how ethnic minority students are influenced by and in turn influence the environment in which they live and how this dialectic may influence their life chances. Since 1 July 1997, the macro context in Hong Kong has been dominated by the development of closer ties between the city and the political and economic infrastructure of China. All former British subjects of Chinese descent in Hong Kong automatically became Chinese citizens (White, 1987). Current new arrivals from China intending to take up residence in Hong Kong are referred to as “immigrants.” Yet at the time of the handover, there were other than people of Chinese descent in Hong Kong and their status was left to the British to determine (Sui & Ku, 2009). These non-Chinese groups remain invisible – neither citizens nor immigrants. Institutional theory has argued that such a context must influence the attitudes of non-citizens in much the same way as political culture exerts influences through processes of political socialization (Weldon, 2006). The institutional contexts influencing ethnic minority students and their responses to them are the subject of this proposal

Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
Effective start/end date01/01/1531/12/17


  • immigration
  • ethnic minorities
  • citizenship


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