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postgraduate thesis: "What is a good farmer?" : an ethnographic study of alternative farming in Hong Kong

Title"What is a good farmer?" : an ethnographic study of alternative farming in Hong Kong
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2018
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Leung, K. [梁紀欣]. (2018). "What is a good farmer?" : an ethnographic study of alternative farming in Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractIn recent decades, there is a growing number of city dwellers who participate in different forms of farming activities in Hong Kong, including rooftop farming, community gardening, and small-scale community farming. As a case study in identifying "alternative farmers" in Hong Kong, this research is a rare sociological attempt to study this group of farmers in Hong Kong. It utilizes the farming community in Lai Chi Wo, an indigenous village in the New Territories. Most of the farmers in Lai Chi Wo have no farming experience. They view it as more than a leisure pursuit, but not an occupation. Incomes are generated, but the mode of farming in Lai Chi Wo is not the main source of their livelihood. To make sense of this new farming trend in Hong Kong, it seems to be necessary to investigate farming selves, considering that identity is a prominent and unavoidable question to every individual in late-modernity. This research attempts to use the notion of "good farming" to interrogate the farming imaginations of alternative farmers and examine how their farming selves came into formation. Ethnographic research was conducted in Lai Chi Wo for 13 months in which narrative and in-depth interviews were conducted along with participant observation. The grounded theory approach was adopted to analyze the data. It is found that the farming identities of alternative farmers are divided into two major clusters along the spectrum of functionalism and romanticism. Half of them associate farming with a dichotomy between production and leisure, while the other half attach diverse imaginations to farming. In general, their opinions on farming were formed through active appropriation of past life events and personal reorganization of structural influences. Interactions among the farming community allow these farmers to negate popular farming practices of others and reinforce their own farming ideologies. Ultimately, the reasons why these people farm at all go beyond the usual self-claimed, direct farming motivations. To them, it is more about sustaining on-going life patterns and goals with structural and traditional influences under the common conditions of late modernity. By unravelling the diverse farming practices of alternative farmers in LCW and the formation of their farming scripts through life narratives, this research explains how and why multiple farming modes and approaches emerge in Hong Kong under co-existence of the discourses of social activism, environmentalism, colonial history and lineage. It provides insights into the understandings of growing ruralism, e.g. the back-to-the-land movement, rural migration, counterurbanization, in both the global north and south, it indicates that alternative farming is not purely a nostalgic pursuit that is anti-urban in nature in capitalist society. There is not a simple and clear stroke between farming and urbanism, the engagement of alternative farming involves a complex process of making sense of one's urban and rural experiences under changing structural conditions in different life stages. Therefore, it is reflexive agency that navigates oneself to farming through specific baggage of experiences that links alternative farming with reflexivity.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectHong Kong - Alternative agriculture - China
Dept/ProgramSociology
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/255458

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorTang, TSD-
dc.contributor.advisorTse, HLT-
dc.contributor.authorLeung, Kei-yan-
dc.contributor.author梁紀欣-
dc.date.accessioned2018-07-05T07:43:38Z-
dc.date.available2018-07-05T07:43:38Z-
dc.date.issued2018-
dc.identifier.citationLeung, K. [梁紀欣]. (2018). "What is a good farmer?" : an ethnographic study of alternative farming in Hong Kong. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/255458-
dc.description.abstractIn recent decades, there is a growing number of city dwellers who participate in different forms of farming activities in Hong Kong, including rooftop farming, community gardening, and small-scale community farming. As a case study in identifying "alternative farmers" in Hong Kong, this research is a rare sociological attempt to study this group of farmers in Hong Kong. It utilizes the farming community in Lai Chi Wo, an indigenous village in the New Territories. Most of the farmers in Lai Chi Wo have no farming experience. They view it as more than a leisure pursuit, but not an occupation. Incomes are generated, but the mode of farming in Lai Chi Wo is not the main source of their livelihood. To make sense of this new farming trend in Hong Kong, it seems to be necessary to investigate farming selves, considering that identity is a prominent and unavoidable question to every individual in late-modernity. This research attempts to use the notion of "good farming" to interrogate the farming imaginations of alternative farmers and examine how their farming selves came into formation. Ethnographic research was conducted in Lai Chi Wo for 13 months in which narrative and in-depth interviews were conducted along with participant observation. The grounded theory approach was adopted to analyze the data. It is found that the farming identities of alternative farmers are divided into two major clusters along the spectrum of functionalism and romanticism. Half of them associate farming with a dichotomy between production and leisure, while the other half attach diverse imaginations to farming. In general, their opinions on farming were formed through active appropriation of past life events and personal reorganization of structural influences. Interactions among the farming community allow these farmers to negate popular farming practices of others and reinforce their own farming ideologies. Ultimately, the reasons why these people farm at all go beyond the usual self-claimed, direct farming motivations. To them, it is more about sustaining on-going life patterns and goals with structural and traditional influences under the common conditions of late modernity. By unravelling the diverse farming practices of alternative farmers in LCW and the formation of their farming scripts through life narratives, this research explains how and why multiple farming modes and approaches emerge in Hong Kong under co-existence of the discourses of social activism, environmentalism, colonial history and lineage. It provides insights into the understandings of growing ruralism, e.g. the back-to-the-land movement, rural migration, counterurbanization, in both the global north and south, it indicates that alternative farming is not purely a nostalgic pursuit that is anti-urban in nature in capitalist society. There is not a simple and clear stroke between farming and urbanism, the engagement of alternative farming involves a complex process of making sense of one's urban and rural experiences under changing structural conditions in different life stages. Therefore, it is reflexive agency that navigates oneself to farming through specific baggage of experiences that links alternative farming with reflexivity. -
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.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshHong Kong - Alternative agriculture - China-
dc.title"What is a good farmer?" : an ethnographic study of alternative farming in Hong Kong-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSociology-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2018-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044019382103414-

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