Examining the Everyday Interaction and Boundary Making/Unmaking between Mainland Skilled Professionals and Locals in Hong Kong

  • LI, Yao-Tai (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


An issue of increasing concern for scholars and the Hong Kong government is the social, economic, and cultural integration of new mainland Chinese immigrants (NMCIs) into local society and their interaction with Hong Kongers. Research on integration difficulties has focused on one-way permit holder migrants from China, who are less skilled, face discrimination and problems with integration based on differences in language and human capital. These studies mostly discuss the impact one-way permit holders have on social welfare resources, while overlooking internal variation within NMCIs, who are not a homogeneous group—skilled professionals may have different integration experiences and receive different treatment from locals than one-way permit holders.

Using Wimmer’s concept of boundary making and unmaking, this study takes a qualitative approach to the narratives, mutual perceptions, stereotyping, and everyday interaction experiences between mainland skilled professionals (MSPs) and Hong Kongers. Boundary making and unmaking affects how migrants and locals understand each other. Building upon the literature on the barriers and discrimination NMCIs face, this research seeks to investigate three sets of questions: (1) what do boundary making/unmaking processes between MSPs and locals look like in the workplace and other social settings; (2) how are specific stereotypes of the other group created, changed, or reproduced through boundary making/unmaking processes; and (3) which kinds of social integration are MSPs pursuing, do they face barriers during their integration process similar to those one-way permit holders face, and how do they react to the barriers?

This study tests the concept of boundary making and unmaking in Hong Kong, where mainland Chinese immigrants migrate from a sovereign to host society but have problems of integration there. It asks whether MSPs experience boundary making and unmaking in different ways (than other NMCIs). It also helps better highlight the theoretical implications of different ideas of prejudice and integration, comparing MSP experiences of integration with those of one-way permit holders, students, tourists, etc. At a policy level, the findings can improve understanding between MSPs and Hong Kongers by highlighting internal variation within NMCIs and addressing the needs of different NMCI groups.

Effective start/end date1/09/208/01/22


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