The key challenges of working with chinese men: Social worker accounts

Tak Mau Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past two decades, increasingly more research has focused on the experience of Chinese men in their roles as fathers and husbands. Hong Kong, for its part, is still in the early stages of understanding this subject. A major breakthrough was made when a series of books on fathers and men in this regard appeared on the market. With a better understanding of the differences between men and women, a shortfall was found in the current social services system, where services have long been designed and implemented with women as the target group. It is now understood that what works for women, may not work for men. In recent years, different organizations have taken a more active role in understanding the varied needs of men.To consolidate the experiences of working with men in both case and group work contexts, and to foster gender sensitivity in social service provision in the Hong Kong context, experienced case and group workers were invited to share four key problems that have been addressed in the community over the past decade. First were the difficulties associated with working with men, especially regarding recruitment to join the study. Second were both understanding and appreciating the characteristics of men and the stereotypes and stigmas associated with male roles. Third was the manner in which men cope with an increasing amount of feminism. Fourth was the future development track of the men's movement.During phase one, experienced workers who had worked with male service users in a variety of Caritas service projects were invited to participate in focus group interviews. Eleven participants took part in two focus groups. The themes were elaborated on in individual, in-depth interviews during the second phase consisting of 10 participants.The results extrapolated from the first theme demonstrated that the recruitment of male service users is one of the key difficulties, although the situation is improving as the use of wording/language becomes more attuned to male clients. In relation to the second theme, stereotypes are commonly presented in the field. For instance, men are expected to be self-reliant, strong, rational, omnipotent, and perform the role of providing financial stability for their families, yet they are marginalized within the family context. In a bid to accommodate the change of ideology in the current Hong Kong context, it is suggested that men should vocalize their needs and develop their own support networks.In relation to the third theme, the workers pointed out that many things can be learnt from the feminist movement to ensure that the service users' voices are better heard. Future studies should probe into these issues. Eventually, both male and female social service workers will be forced to redesign their language and mindsets to better facilitate interventions for male users.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-232
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social Work Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Drug guides

User-Defined Keywords

  • help-seeking men
  • Hong Kong
  • men service
  • narration of social workers


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