Trapped in the middle: Hong Kong youth transitions from a risk society perspective

Victor C W Wong*, Vienne Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    Transitions from school to employment in post-industrial economies are characterised by risk and uncertainty where the "trapped middles", be they subdegree holders or students, are bound to ascribe to the influence of stratification and commodification of tertiary education. Underpinned by the perspective of risk society, this paper examines Hong Kong young people's perception and negotiation of risks pertinent to their transitions and explores the interplay between their aspirational pursuits and the reality of the contexts in which they live. An analysis of 24 respondents holding or pursuing sub-degree qualifications, in which gender, level of income, and social status are the sampling criteria, identifies three major groups of in-betweeners: those who align themselves with the mainstream ideology of pursuing educational credentials; those who eagerly live up to normative expectations but fail owing to poor academic results or high tuition fees; and those who are nebulous about their future but consider subdegree programs as a buffer to delay making decisions. The analysis shows that impacts derived from uncertainty, stratification and commodification of higher education are no longer confined to a particular group of moderate achievers; all young people are affected.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)24-40
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Applied Youth Studies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Globalization
    • Youth Employment
    • Career development


    Dive into the research topics of 'Trapped in the middle: Hong Kong youth transitions from a risk society perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this