The development of Hong Kong students' civic attitudes under Chinese sovereignty

Kerry John KENNEDY, Lijuan Joanna LI, Hoi Yu NG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The recent mobilization of many Hong Kong youth to engage in what are regarded as radical political activities is not a new area of investigation. Much has been discussed about this growing political activism and localism often giving an impression that Hong Kong youth are radical and disengaged from China as a nation. Yet little is known about the possible antecedents of such disengagement. The purpose of this paper is to identify whether there is empirical evidence of growth or decline in civic trust and national attitudes amongst Hong Kong young adolescents over the ten-year period from 1999 to 2009.
Design/methodology/approach: In this study latent profile analyses were used to classify cohorts of Hong Kong secondary students according to the levels of their self-reported trust in civic institutions and attitudes toward the nation. The cohorts were separated by a ten-year gap. Comparisons were made across groups and across the ten-year time span, in order to trace changes in civic attitudes of young adolescents following the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
Findings: Three distinct groups were identified in both cohorts – Activists, who had negative attitudes to trust and toward the nation, Nationalists who had positive attitudes toward trust and the nation and Moderates who endorsed average responses to the, two variables. The gaps between the groups tended to be greater in the 2009 group compared to the 1999 groups suggesting greater polarization amongst adolescents on these measures.
Originality/value: Young adolescents cannot be assumed to be politically neutral or lacking social values. Citizenship education needs to take this into account so that values can be clarified and major issues can be discussed in a safe and supportive environment. Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-394
JournalAsian Education and Development Studies
Issue number4
Early online dateSept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Kennedy, K. J., Li, L. J., & Ng, H. Y. (2018). The development of Hong Kong students' civic attitudes under Chinese sovereignty. Asian Education and Development Studies, 7(4), 382-394. doi: 10.1108/AEDS-04-2017-0035


  • Activism
  • Civic attitudes
  • Civic trust
  • National attitudes
  • Radicalism
  • Youth movement


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