“Loving my political opponents”: Political disagreements and marital quality in Hong Kong

Project: Research project

Project Details


Political polarization among the public has become a major concern in many societies. The process of polarization has strengthened partisan identities and increased the prejudice and anger directed toward members of opposing groups. This increased hostility can cause conflicts in relationships, particularly when couple partners differ greatly from each other in terms of their political attitudes, behaviors, and identities. Unfortunately, few academic studies have investigated the prevalence, factors, and consequences of within-couple political disagreements. In particular, the relationship between within-couple political disagreements and marital quality has not been thoroughly investigated. It remains unclear why some families are more vulnerable to these conflicts than others in times of political polarization.

Hong Kong provides an interesting and important case study for an investigation of the relationship between political disagreements and marital relations. Public opinion polls show increasing polarization regarding a wide range of political issues. Citizens with different political orientations have developed a strong sense of antagonism and hatred toward one another. Does political division in society translate into poorer marital quality? Understanding how married couples with different political orientations maintain their marriages and interact with each other in a highly polarized political context is an important question that remains inadequately addressed in the literature.

The main purpose of the proposed study will be to investigate in detail the relationship between within-couple political disagreements and marital quality. The proposed study will aim to answer five related research questions: 1) How common are political disagreements (on issues including attitudes, behaviors, and identities) between husbands and wives? 2) How are within-couple political disagreements (on issues including attitudes, behaviors, and identities) related to the couples’ sociodemographic backgrounds? 3) How are differences in political attitudes, behaviors, and partisan identities associated with marital quality? 4) How does the strength of association between political disagreements and marital quality compare with the association between other dimensions of status and value dissimilarities and marital quality? 5) Under what conditions are political disagreements more strongly related to marital quality? 6) What are the differences in how husbands and wives perceive and react to the impacts of political disagreements on their marital quality?

The proposed study will adopt a mixed-methods approach. The quantitative phase will pioneer the use of a representative household survey to study the prevalence, factors, and impacts of political disagreements among married partners, and the qualitative phase will collect follow-up interview data containing the narratives of the experience of conflict between couple partners.
Effective start/end date1/01/2231/12/24

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 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth


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