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postgraduate thesis: The narrative of anomie: power, agency and the negotiation of identity of mainland Chinese students in HongKong

TitleThe narrative of anomie: power, agency and the negotiation of identity of mainland Chinese students in HongKong
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Chui, WH
Issue Date2013
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Karenina-Paterson, S. L.. (2013). The narrative of anomie : power, agency and the negotiation of identity of mainland Chinese students in Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4979948
AbstractThe sociological concept of anomie describes a state in which an individual or community experiences a loss or lack of a clear sense of norms. Anomie can be understood from three key theoretical perspectives from Merton, Durkheim and Guyau, respectively. These are: 1) a dilemma of having to choose between socially acceptable goals and the means required to achieve them; 2) a loss of meaningful connection with social classification through sudden change; and 3) a period of existential obligation in which problems must be solved in order to move to the next developmental stage. Power and institutions share an intrinsic relationship with theories of anomie as from a Foucauldian perspective; it is institutions that are tasked with the maintenance of social norms through the investiture of legitimate power. Feelings of dysphoria also frequently accompany anomie as individuals and groups change and adapt in the process of developing coping skills of either motivation and increasing agency, or survival and acquiescence. This thesis is the final product of a qualitative research study of the lived-experiences of Mainland Chinese students who are currently studying in Hong Kong, or who graduated within the past five years. Using a narrative theory approach with values of empowerment and collaborative research, testimony from 25 participants was obtained through guided, in-depth, semi-structured interviews. The study found that experiences of discrimination and exploitation against Mainland students are common both in wider society and within university institutions. These experiences in turn often led participants to begin questioning their personal worth, the value of their goals, and sense of “Chinese-ness”. As a result, participants came to question the shared narrative of Hong Kong’s cultural and economic superiority, and its own internal sense of identity and future direction within a greater Chinese community. Through this thesis, I argue that although experiences of anomie involve potentially distressing periods of change, uncertainty and dysphoria, they also serve an important social function in contributing to the formation and negotiation of norms, and in the process, help to maintain an ongoing, contiguous narrative both of individuals and the communities that they live within. The concept of a “Constellation Theory of Anomie “is developed using two models entitled “The Theoretical Constellation of Anomie” and “The Narrative of Anomie” to explain the bi-dimensional nature of anomie in contexts of structurated space and narrative time. As Hong Kong and Mainland China continue to move closer together, existing social, cultural and behavioural norms become increasingly contested. Mainland Chinese students studying in Hong Kong are a singularly important group as their presence in the region serves as one context for the negotiation of a stable, inclusive group identity and narrative.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectChinese students - China - Hong Kong.
Dept/ProgramSocial Work and Social Administration

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorChui, WH-
dc.contributor.authorKarenina-Paterson, Sophie Lilian.-
dc.date.issued2013-
dc.identifier.citationKarenina-Paterson, S. L.. (2013). The narrative of anomie : power, agency and the negotiation of identity of mainland Chinese students in Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4979948-
dc.description.abstractThe sociological concept of anomie describes a state in which an individual or community experiences a loss or lack of a clear sense of norms. Anomie can be understood from three key theoretical perspectives from Merton, Durkheim and Guyau, respectively. These are: 1) a dilemma of having to choose between socially acceptable goals and the means required to achieve them; 2) a loss of meaningful connection with social classification through sudden change; and 3) a period of existential obligation in which problems must be solved in order to move to the next developmental stage. Power and institutions share an intrinsic relationship with theories of anomie as from a Foucauldian perspective; it is institutions that are tasked with the maintenance of social norms through the investiture of legitimate power. Feelings of dysphoria also frequently accompany anomie as individuals and groups change and adapt in the process of developing coping skills of either motivation and increasing agency, or survival and acquiescence. This thesis is the final product of a qualitative research study of the lived-experiences of Mainland Chinese students who are currently studying in Hong Kong, or who graduated within the past five years. Using a narrative theory approach with values of empowerment and collaborative research, testimony from 25 participants was obtained through guided, in-depth, semi-structured interviews. The study found that experiences of discrimination and exploitation against Mainland students are common both in wider society and within university institutions. These experiences in turn often led participants to begin questioning their personal worth, the value of their goals, and sense of “Chinese-ness”. As a result, participants came to question the shared narrative of Hong Kong’s cultural and economic superiority, and its own internal sense of identity and future direction within a greater Chinese community. Through this thesis, I argue that although experiences of anomie involve potentially distressing periods of change, uncertainty and dysphoria, they also serve an important social function in contributing to the formation and negotiation of norms, and in the process, help to maintain an ongoing, contiguous narrative both of individuals and the communities that they live within. The concept of a “Constellation Theory of Anomie “is developed using two models entitled “The Theoretical Constellation of Anomie” and “The Narrative of Anomie” to explain the bi-dimensional nature of anomie in contexts of structurated space and narrative time. As Hong Kong and Mainland China continue to move closer together, existing social, cultural and behavioural norms become increasingly contested. Mainland Chinese students studying in Hong Kong are a singularly important group as their presence in the region serves as one context for the negotiation of a stable, inclusive group identity and narrative.-
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/B49799484-
dc.subject.lcshChinese students - China - Hong Kong.-
dc.titleThe narrative of anomie: power, agency and the negotiation of identity of mainland Chinese students in HongKong-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4979948-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSocial Work and Social Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4979948-
dc.date.hkucongregation2013-

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