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Postgraduate Thesis: Ethnic relations in everyday life: how ethnicboundary is reproduced and negotiated in Hong Kong
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TitleEthnic relations in everyday life: how ethnicboundary is reproduced and negotiated in Hong Kong
 
AuthorsChoi, Tsz-kin.
蔡梓健.
 
Issue Date2012
 
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
AbstractHong Kong has generally been regarded as a socially homogenous city predominately populated by Chinese. Ethnic minorities are usually absent in public discourse and ethnic relations are generally considered harmonious in the city. However, it is revealed by social researchers that despite the lack of an institutionalized form of racism in Hong Kong, ethnic tensions do exist in the everyday life among individuals. This study is concerned about the everyday level of ethnic relations in Hong Kong. The objective of this study is to reveal how ethnic relations are dealt with by both ethnic minorities and the local Chinese people residing in the city. In particular, the way in which ethnic boundary is constantly reproduced and negotiated by the two parties in their everyday life is examined. Adopting a constructivist approach, ethnic boundary is regarded as something constructed and therefore subject to the flexible negotiation of individuals in their everyday life in this study. The South Asian communities are selected as the target in this study because they are the biggest groups of ethnic minorities and they have a long history of settlement in Hong Kong. Fourteen in-depth interviews were conducted with a total of eighteen individuals with different ethnicities, including Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, Sri Lankan and also the local Chinese, all having settled in Hong Kong. Semi-structured questions were asked in the interviews to explore their life experience regarding ethnic relations in Hong Kong; their social, cultural and religious practices; and their perceptions on their identity. It is found that both the local Chinese and ethnic minorities have engaged in the reproduction and negotiation of ethnic boundary. Ethnic boundary is reproduced by the local Chinese through racist bias, and by the ethnic minorities through retaining their cultural and religious traditions and establishing social connection with their fellows in the ethnic community. However, it can also be negotiated through the cultural assimilation of ethnic minorities and also cross-ethnic interaction. Moreover, identification with a superordinate social category above ethnicity also helps eliminate ethnic boundary. Based upon an analysis of my intensive interviews, it is suggested that several factors would affect whether individuals from ethnic minority groups tend to reproduce or negotiate ethnic boundary, namely Chinese proficiency, family upbringing, education and the nature of the ethnic culture. While exploring the way in which ethnic boundary is negotiated, it is also revealed that possibilities are opened up to alter the meaning of the social category of “Hong Konger” from a term closely associated with the Chinese ethnicity to one which does not exclude ethnic minorities. This study has also advanced the literature on “doing difference” by recognizing the potential of individual agents in creating alternative understanding of ethnic differences.
 
AdvisorsLui, TL
 
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
 
Dept/ProgramSociology
 
DC FieldValue
dc.contributor.advisorLui, TL
 
dc.contributor.authorChoi, Tsz-kin.
 
dc.contributor.author蔡梓健.
 
dc.date.hkucongregation2012
 
dc.date.issued2012
 
dc.description.abstractHong Kong has generally been regarded as a socially homogenous city predominately populated by Chinese. Ethnic minorities are usually absent in public discourse and ethnic relations are generally considered harmonious in the city. However, it is revealed by social researchers that despite the lack of an institutionalized form of racism in Hong Kong, ethnic tensions do exist in the everyday life among individuals. This study is concerned about the everyday level of ethnic relations in Hong Kong. The objective of this study is to reveal how ethnic relations are dealt with by both ethnic minorities and the local Chinese people residing in the city. In particular, the way in which ethnic boundary is constantly reproduced and negotiated by the two parties in their everyday life is examined. Adopting a constructivist approach, ethnic boundary is regarded as something constructed and therefore subject to the flexible negotiation of individuals in their everyday life in this study. The South Asian communities are selected as the target in this study because they are the biggest groups of ethnic minorities and they have a long history of settlement in Hong Kong. Fourteen in-depth interviews were conducted with a total of eighteen individuals with different ethnicities, including Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, Sri Lankan and also the local Chinese, all having settled in Hong Kong. Semi-structured questions were asked in the interviews to explore their life experience regarding ethnic relations in Hong Kong; their social, cultural and religious practices; and their perceptions on their identity. It is found that both the local Chinese and ethnic minorities have engaged in the reproduction and negotiation of ethnic boundary. Ethnic boundary is reproduced by the local Chinese through racist bias, and by the ethnic minorities through retaining their cultural and religious traditions and establishing social connection with their fellows in the ethnic community. However, it can also be negotiated through the cultural assimilation of ethnic minorities and also cross-ethnic interaction. Moreover, identification with a superordinate social category above ethnicity also helps eliminate ethnic boundary. Based upon an analysis of my intensive interviews, it is suggested that several factors would affect whether individuals from ethnic minority groups tend to reproduce or negotiate ethnic boundary, namely Chinese proficiency, family upbringing, education and the nature of the ethnic culture. While exploring the way in which ethnic boundary is negotiated, it is also revealed that possibilities are opened up to alter the meaning of the social category of “Hong Konger” from a term closely associated with the Chinese ethnicity to one which does not exclude ethnic minorities. This study has also advanced the literature on “doing difference” by recognizing the potential of individual agents in creating alternative understanding of ethnic differences.
 
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version
 
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSociology
 
dc.description.thesislevelmaster's
 
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy
 
dc.identifier.hkulb4786985
 
dc.languageeng
 
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
 
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)
 
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.
 
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License
 
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B47869859
 
dc.titleEthnic relations in everyday life: how ethnicboundary is reproduced and negotiated in Hong Kong
 
dc.typePG_Thesis
 
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<description.abstract>&#65279;Hong Kong has generally been regarded as a socially homogenous city predominately populated by Chinese. Ethnic minorities are usually absent in public discourse and ethnic relations are generally considered harmonious in the city. However, it is revealed by social researchers that despite the lack of an institutionalized form of racism in Hong Kong, ethnic tensions do exist in the everyday life among individuals. This study is concerned about the everyday level of ethnic relations in Hong Kong. The objective of this study is to reveal how ethnic relations are dealt with by both ethnic minorities and the local Chinese people residing in the city. In particular, the way in which ethnic boundary is constantly reproduced and negotiated by the two parties in their everyday life is examined. Adopting a constructivist approach, ethnic boundary is regarded as something constructed and therefore subject to the flexible negotiation of individuals in their everyday life in this study.



The South Asian communities are selected as the target in this study because they are the biggest groups of ethnic minorities and they have a long history of settlement in Hong Kong. Fourteen in-depth interviews were conducted with a total of eighteen individuals with different ethnicities, including Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, Sri Lankan and also the local Chinese, all having settled in Hong Kong. Semi-structured questions were asked in the interviews to explore their life experience regarding ethnic relations in Hong Kong; their social, cultural and religious practices; and their perceptions on their identity. It is found that both the local Chinese and ethnic minorities have engaged in the reproduction and negotiation of ethnic boundary. Ethnic boundary is reproduced by the local Chinese through racist bias, and by the ethnic minorities through retaining their cultural and religious traditions and establishing social connection with their fellows in the ethnic community. However, it can also be negotiated through the cultural assimilation of ethnic minorities and also cross-ethnic interaction. Moreover, identification with a superordinate social category above ethnicity also helps eliminate ethnic boundary. 

Based upon an analysis of my intensive interviews, it is suggested that several factors would affect whether individuals from ethnic minority groups tend to reproduce or negotiate ethnic boundary, namely Chinese proficiency, family upbringing, education and the nature of the ethnic culture. While exploring the way in which ethnic boundary is negotiated, it is also revealed that possibilities are opened up to alter the meaning of the social category of &#8220;Hong Konger&#8221; from a term closely associated with the Chinese ethnicity to one which does not exclude ethnic minorities. This study has also advanced the literature on &#8220;doing difference&#8221; by recognizing the potential of individual agents in creating alternative understanding of ethnic differences.</description.abstract>
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