How do ideas and discourses construct youth policies? The case of Hong Kong

Victor C W Wong*, Tat Chor Au-Yeung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the youth narratives of Mr Leung Chun-ying, the Chief Executive (CE) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government between 2012 and 2017, which steered the directions of youth policies in Hong Kong.

Design/methodology/approach: Informed by the ideational school of institutionalism, a qualitative documentary study was conducted to analyse the policy addresses, speeches, and blog posts delivered by the then CE, which were all available on the website of the HKSAR Government. It was through a thematic analysis of the database that themes and sub-themes were generated for the discussion. Representative verbatim quotes are used for illustrating some of the youth policy ideas and discourses promoted under the Leung’s regime.

Findings: The findings suggest that the governing youth narratives could be categorised into two interrelated themes: behavioural patriotism and economic opportunism. The notions of youth development constructed in the narratives of Leung shape the definition of youth-related problems and solutions in relation to national identity and global competition.

Research limitations/implications: This study focusses on the previous term of HKSAR Government that cannot fully reveal the extent of policy continuities and changes. Yet, it could outline the overall picture and address the shortcomings of Hong Kong’s current youth policies viewed from both normative and cognitive perspectives. Methodological and analytical implications can be drawn for further studies on policy ideas and discourses.

Originality/value: The paper has two major contributions; the first of which is the illustration of an analytical framework connecting contents, tools, and justification of policies for capturing the dynamics and complexities of youth policies. Second, the findings of this study develop a critical understanding of neoliberal youth policies in both economic and moral senses that pose new challenges to young people and policy makers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-294
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Discourses
  • Documentary study
  • Hong Kong
  • Ideas
  • Youth policies


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