Inter-discursive strategies, resistance and agency the case of poverty in Hong Kong media

  • Wai Han Lo

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study uses Foucauldian governmentality as a framework to examine the interplay of neoliberal and place-based discourses, as well as the political rationalities aimed at governing citizens. It identifies neoliberalism as an ideological project and different parties play a role in the facilitation and circulation of neoliberalism as a form of governmentality. The possibility for accommodation of the two mismatched theoretical position, poststructuralism and Marxism, is also discussed. This study not only focuses on the apparatus of technologies of domination, but also responds to a recent call to recognize the creative possibilities and freedom of an individual. A geneology of poverty and welfare discourse is examined in this study through a complementary combination of qualitative coding analysis and quantitative content analysis of 20 years of Hong Kong newspaper articles. Seventy in-deep interviews with poor people, social workers, and volunteers, and participant observation were conducted in three NGOs for one year. Five central governing practices among poverty news articles supporting neoliberal rationality and mentalities and four oppositional claims are also found. Three major shifts in discursive strategies were identified as coinciding with the major socio-political changes in Hong Kong. The result shows that the mobilization of moral panic prompted a shift in the discourse regarding poverty from a story-like form of social citizenship to rational language of economic citizenship. In this, news media use their institutional power to determine the legitimate way to discuss poverty. Faced with journalism preference of scientism, rationality, and extraordinary stories, social actors and government officials use survey, official statistics, rational language and demonstrations to attract media attention. Journalists condition the audience to act as good citizens by repeating the self-reliance project. The individuals are either conditioned to behave themselves or to monitor the behavior of others in economic terms. This study further examines how the society in terms of power and knowledge constitutes subjectivity. It first illustrates how gazes might transform social relations in our everyday lives. Individuals might submit to power as technology of domination under constant surveillance. At the same time, poor people accomplish goals and actualize themselves as technology of self
    Date of Award27 Jul 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorYu HUANG (Supervisor)

    User-Defined Keywords

    • China
    • Hong Kong
    • Mass media
    • Neoliberalism
    • Place-based education
    • Poverty

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