Teacher alienation in Hong Kong

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Teachers’ negative emotions began to receive attention in the Hong Kong context in the mid-1990s. As negative emotions may affect both teachers’ well-being and the quality of their teaching, Hong Kong education policy-makers and educators have used psychological approaches to determine the reasons why teachers experience negative feelings. However, these approaches fail to accommodate the social causes of negative emotions. Therefore, this study investigates the possible social causes of teachers’ negative emotions from the perspective of alienation theory. In-depth interviews with 21 teachers in Hong Kong reveal that Hong Kong teachers may be suffering from alienation (characterised by a sense of powerlessness, meaninglessness, isolation, and self-estrangement) due to their experiences of teaching, their employment status, and their structural position in schools, which are related to the occupational and organisational structure of teaching. The findings also indicate that patterns of alienation may differ between more and less experienced teachers. Copyright © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-346
JournalDiscourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education
Issue number3
Early online dateNov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Tsang, K. K. (2018). Teacher alienation in Hong Kong. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 39(3), 335-346. doi: 10.1080/01596306.2016.1261084


  • Alienation
  • Powerlessness
  • Meaninglessness
  • Isolation
  • Self-estrangement
  • Teacher emotions
  • Teaching


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