Processes of individual mobilization into political party activism: Case studies of Hong Kong youth

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses

Abstract

The central goal of this study is to conceptualize the mobilization processes of a sample of young party activists in Hong Kong, which is a semi-autonomous hybrid regime under Chinese sovereignty. It does so by examining the processes leading a sample of young people to come to join and become active in political parties and the roles of macro-, meso-, and individual-level influences in the processes. Life history interview is the primary data collection method. A total of 23 young party activists from five major political parties in Hong Kong were interviewed. In general, this study found that the individual mobilization of young people to party activism can be conceptualized as a four-step process shaped by a variety of macro- and meso-level contexts and the individual agencies of young people. The macro-level influences in this study indicate that the macro-context of Hong Kong is not completely unfavorable to party activism. The "liberal authoritarian" hybrid regime has given rise to many political events, such as demonstrations and movements for the pro-democracy parties to inspire young people to participate in party activism. The status of Hong Kong as a dependent polity of China also enables pro-Beijing parties to receive abundant resources from pro-Beijing organizations and corporations to fund their recruitment efforts. The meso-level contexts in this study show that Hong Kong parties are not completely at the mercy of the unfavorable context. They can use different strategies and incentives to recruit new blood. Other meso-contexts, such as university, mass media, and voluntary organizations, also serve as agents of socialization and social networks that directly and indirectly draw some young people into party activism. The contextual influences can interact, but not every influence operates at the same time in a person's life and is important for all young people. Furthermore, the effect of these contextual influences is not deterministic, as young people can assert their individual agencies to interact with and reflect on the contextual influences when they decide on their course of action. These different configurations and the interactions of the contextual and individual influences have led the participants of this study to go through different paths toward party activism. For some participants, they developed an ideological affinity to the party or expressed interest in participating before they became involved in the party, and these political beliefs usually motivated them to get involved. However, some only learned about the beliefs of the party and developed an interest in a political career after participating in the party. Their initial involvement in the party was mainly due to non-political reasons. Some participants joined the party as members before participating in any party activity. However, some were less decisive and went through an exploratory period in the party before making the final decision to join. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Youth -- Political activity -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2014

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