Model of and Model for Ethnic Minorities: Individualization of the Model Minority Stereotype in Hong Kong

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In recent years, we have seen the emergence of media attention on “the first ever South Asian ...” in Hong Kong, including the first full-time Indian actor at a leading Chinese TV channel, the first Pakistani news reporter working for a Chinese news platform, the first Pakistani female police officer, the first Pakistani undergraduate to win the prestigious Jockey Club Scholarship, the first Indian and Pakistani registered social workers, as well as the first Pakistani Mutual Aid Committee chairman, who also became the first ethnic minority to sit on the District Fight Crime Committee. These individuals are celebrated as role models of and for ethnic minorities—models who have succeeded through the local systems. I argue that this is individualization of the model minority stereotype whereby individual attributes, rather than group characteristics, are used to explain ethnic minority success. This individualization has two effects. First, it disseminates the implicit and explicit message that Hong Kong allows for success based on meritocracy—that anyone who strives hard enough can make it in Hong Kong, thus masking the inequalities and difficulties challenging ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Second, the explanation of success is aligned with the degree of assimilation to reinforce Hong Kong’s cultural superiority, to perpetuate the cultural hierarchy and to confirm the ethnic minority stereotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHong Kong Culture and Society in the New Millennium
Subtitle of host publicationHong Kong as Method
EditorsYiu-Wai Chu
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789811036682
ISBN (Print)9789811036675, 9789811099366
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2017

Publication series

NameThe Humanities in Asia
ISSN (Print)2363-6890
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6904

User-Defined Keywords

  • Ethnic Minority
  • Role Model
  • Fast Food Restaurant
  • Ethnic Minority Student
  • Model Minority


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