Working from the Ground Up: A Participatory Approach to Community Revitalization in Old Urban Neighbourhoods in Hong Kong

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Research in the West on economic globalisation and neoliberalisation has highlighted the continual social and spatial polarisation of global cities. This trend has appeared in Hong Kong, as old urban neighbourhoods such as Shamshuipon and Kennedy Town exhibit distinctive features, including poverty, unemployment, concentrations of disadvantaged groups and stigmatisation. Despite the provision of mainstream social services in these communities, there is a lack of initiatives to develop community strength to tackle social exclusion and disadvantage.

    The proposed study will adopt the ground-up community development approach that includes the participatory action research approach and university-community engagement. Inspired by a research study funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) – Working from the Ground Up (WFGU) - from 2008 for five years and having gained support from one of that study’s chief investigators, this project will aim at (1) trialling community development strategies to effectively enable social inclusion and reduce social disadvantage in old urban areas of Hong Kong through co-production of knowledge with residents and stakeholders; (2) studying the effectiveness of the community development strategies that are developed using participatory action research; (3) identifying effective strategies of universities-community engagement; and (4) undertaking comparative analysis of community development strategies and their effectiveness in Hong Kong and in Sydney, focusing on social cohesion, resident participation, partnerships between stakeholders, and social networks indicators.

    This research project will involve three phases: (1) engaging the community; (2) developing and trialling initiatives; and (3) enabling consolidation and sustainability. Phase One will involve interviews with key informants; a household survey; resident feedback sessions to discuss the survey findings; the formation of partnerships with local services for residents, local businesses, resident organisations and government departments; engaging residents and service providers by conducting focus group meetings; and conducting service provider surveys. Phase Two will involve conducting a second household survey (12 months after the first survey); collaborating with service providers to conduct activities indicated by the residents during Phase One; performing an evaluation/survey of each activity; and documenting the views or insights gained through all these activities. Phase Three will involve feedback sessions with residents, service providers, government departments and other stakeholders to enable the consolidation of achievements and sustenance of collaboration. Each stage of the research will feed into the design, re-design, implementation and evaluation of on-going community revitalisation efforts.

    A mixed research methods of quantitative and qualitative approaches will be adopted. For quantitative measures, scales in Chinese have already been made available for consideration by the researchers, residents, service providers and other stakeholders involved in the action research process. They include the Social Capital Questionnaire- Chinese (SCQ-C) which was validated by the PI and local Co-I in another GRF project; the Buckner Social Cohesion Scale and liveability questions which were also validated by the PI and local Co-I in another pilot study; the Lubben Social Network Scale (Chinese validated version available) and tailor-made questionnaires to tape strengths of partnership and evaluate community development initiatives. Qualitative methods will include individual and group interviews of stakeholders.

    The three areas of innovation: community development models, action research methodologies and university-community engagement represent the latest trends in research, policy and practice, all fields that are seeking to ensure that the work undertaken has high social impact and addresses pressing social issues in concrete and sustainable ways. The link with the ARC project enables the comparative dimension which is a unique aspect of the research because community development strategies are context specific. Contribution to theory development will be in the areas of community development models, participatory action research and university-community partnership.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1731/12/20

    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 1 - No Poverty
    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
    • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
    • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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