Civic engagement and the identity of minoritized students: The influence of the moderated mediation of online participation and socio-demography

Ki Keith CHAN

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


The issues of identity for a small population of minoritized students are complex because their citizenship, by law, resides in a home country even though their residence is in Hong Kong. Research, however, has indicated that many of them consider themselves Hongkongers who show strong identity toward the local community rather than toward China or their home countries. Since Hong Kong has become an Internet city that connects them closely in cyberspace, this research explores how their identity develops and whether participation online for civic activities facilitates their civic engagement. This research is the first to focus specifically on the role and impact of online participation on minoritized students. In particular, it aims at identifying who might be netizens among minoritized students since many of them have used mobile phones with online social media apps while they are in the secondary school. A cross-sectional survey with a sample of 419 minoritized secondary students was collected in 2018. Hypothesized models were developed based on theoretical models of media effects. The models assumed that there were positive moderated mediation effects between the relationships of their online participation, civic engagement and identity in school and in community. Structural equation modeling was used to explore the hypothetical relationships that were assumed to be non-recursive. In order to test the hypotheses, residual centering procedures were adopted for orthogonalizing observed variables, eliminating multicollinearity from latent variables and controlling for covariates before statistical data analysis. Plausible values were also computed using Bayesian approaches for the data to quantify the degree of uncertainty arising from the interactions between latent variables and socio-demographics since residual centering essentially has no effect on dichotomous or categorical variables. Direct and indirect effects were estimated by maximum likelihood including the effects of both mediating and moderating variables. The results explained the hypothetical models how online participation as a form of network decentralization led to their independence from group-based civic paradigms in which they may or may not have been welcomed. The findings also implied that these minoritized student netizens were influenced by their civic activism of online participation or socio-demographic characteristics. This research has demonstrated a link between online participation, civic engagement and identity. In particular, the important role of identity has been highlighted for minoritized students and this has implications for both policy and practice. Given the importance of social issues related to civic engagement in Hong Kong, future research should test the associations found here with local Chinese students. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • LAW, Hau Fai Edmond, Supervisor
  • LIM, Cher Ping 林質彬, Supervisor
  • KENNEDY, Kerry John 甘國臻, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Civic engagement
  • Identity
  • Minoritized students
  • Moderated mediation
  • Online participation
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2020.


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