Policy, mobility, and youth subjectivity: the case of the Hong Kong-Australian working holiday scheme

Louis K C HO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Mobilities has become a keyword in the agendas of policy makers and the decisions of individuals, including young people. Hong Kong as a city long defined as a hub of cross-border flows has in recent years promoted the Working Holiday scheme, a new international policy and programme that directly encourages cross-border flows among the younger generations. Through the programme, young people aged between 18 and 30 can live and work in Hong Kong’s Partner Economies for a relatively long period of time (usually up to 12 months). By obtaining information through in-depth interviews with 50 Hong Kong citizens who spent their working holidays in Australia and analysing various texts on the Working Holiday scheme, including the travel records and published works by working holiday makers, official documents, news reports, and documentaries, this paper discusses how young people interpret the practice of working holidays as a romanticized culture of being mobile. Exploring how the working holiday makers’ experiences of mobility compel them to balance highly precarious labour conditions with aspirations to search for a meaningful life, this paper shows that the liminal time of working holidays shapes youth subjectivity by creating a kind of ‘emerging adulthood’ in which the young people might have a chance to explore alternative value systems but also be subject to the necessity to the final return to home and working life as a result of the temporariness of the scheme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-963
Number of pages20
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Australia
  • emerging adulthood
  • Hong Kong
  • meaningful life
  • mobility
  • Working holidays


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