Dynamics of participation: A study of youth political participation in post-handover Hong Kong

Project: Research project

Project Details


Political participation of the younger generation has always been a cornerstone of effective governance. Despite a chorus of worries over youth disengagement from politics, young people today have shown sustained political interest and have sought to engage in politics in innovative ways. However, while much work has focused on Western democracies, few studies have examined youth political participation in nondemocratic contexts, especially hybrid ones, where young people are partially excluded from politics and struggle to make their voices heard. Most of the limited works have focused on youth activists rather than ordinary young people. The questions of why and how ordinary youth participate, and whether they persist in political participation over their life-course, becomes particularly important when waves of political activism in such contexts have often failed to bring about genuine democratic changes. After taking part in activism and then coping with the realities of regime resilience, how do young people in non-democracies understand politics? What make them persist and what leads them to reduce participation or disengage? How do they seek new ways to involve in politics?

Post-handover Hong Kong offers an ideal setting to examine these questions. As a resilient hybrid regime, Hong Kong has witnessed a growing trend in youth political participation since the mid-2000s, challenging government policies and legitimacy in the form of popular protests. While studies have analysed the causes and consequences of youth contention, none of them have thoroughly explained what drives youth political engagement, or what motivates variations in political attitudes and behaviour within the youth cohort. Nor have these works attempted to explain the continuity of participation, or how past political experiences shape subsequent participation. The protest-ridden, hybrid regime context of Hong Kong provides a fitting opportunity for researchers to understand the evolution of political participation as a dynamic and contingent process.

This project aims to study the intensity and continuity of youth political participation in contemporary Hong Kong. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the project will 1) identify the variations in forms of political participation both within the youth cohorts and across age groups, 2) explain the variations of the intensity and continuity of participation through individual-level factors, 3) examine the endogenous impact of past participatory experiences, and 4) map new ways that youth participate in politics. In doing so, it hopes to bring theoretical insights to the scholarship of political participation, facilitate cross-national comparisons and impact policy.
Effective start/end date1/01/1931/03/22

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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