Exploring students’ concepts of democracy: A comparison of Hong Kong and US adolescents

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Objectives. This paper will report on a study that compared students’ understanding of democracy and will address the following questions: How do Hong Kong and US students understand democracy? How are the views of Hong Kong and US similar and how are they different? How have historical, cultural and political contexts influenced student understandings in different contexts? Key findings. At the conceptual level, the basic configural structure of student understanding was similar for both samples consisting of factors related to Rights and Responsibilities, limited Government and Threats to Democracy. Yet the emphasis placed on these constructs was different. Hong Kong students tended to emphasize limited Government while US students emphasized Rights and responsibilities. Threats to Democracy were emphasized equally by both samples. These results can be explained by the distinctive historical, cultural and political contexts that have influenced hong Kong students and US. Contribution to the field. This results of this study attributed quite sophisticated understandings of democracy to 15 year old students across two societies. It used a range of research methods to arrive at this conclusion. Yet these methods were not the focus of the paper. Rather, the focus is on the way these methods provide a lens to understand better students’ understanding of basic citizenship concepts and how comparison itself can be an important research method.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010


Hong Kong
rights and responsibilities
research method


Kennedy, K. J. (2010, July). Exploring students’ concepts of democracy: A comparison of Hong Kong and US adolescents. Paper presented at 6th International Citized Conference, St. Andrew's University, Scotland.