Social accommodation of politics: the case of the young Hong Kong workers

AuthorLau Siu-kai

Ho Kam-fai

TitleSocial accommodation of politics: the case of the young Hong Kong workers
PublisherSocial Research Center, the Chinese University of Hong Kong
Publication DateJanuary, 1980
Keywords:Political socialization

Political participation

Abstract/ Concluding Remarks:We have argued in this paper that through the social accommodation of politics, Hong Kong has been thus far able to maintain political stability whilst undergoing rapid economic development and amidst the glaring socio-economic inequality thus generated. Compared to other modes of depoliticization of the lower strata, which are largely political in nature, the social accommodation of politics hinges upon the coexistence of a relatively "underdeveloped" polity and a relatively "overdeveloped" society, and is hence a social mode of depoliticization. That social accommodation of politics in Hong Kong is possible is due primarily to the disjunction between polity and society, the non-interventionist philosophy of the ruling strata, the resourcefulness of the social sector, a booming economy and the low mobilization potential of the Hong Kong workers. As a result of the social accommodation of politics, issues and needs in society are kept from being transferred from the social sector to the polity for resolution.

Looking into the future, the social accommodation of politics as a mechanism of depoliticization will become less and less effective.

Problems which can only be dealt with at a society-wide basis are on the rise, particularly in the case of housing, and the resources available to society for need satisfaction are becoming depleted because of the gradual breakdown of the primary networks (especially the family system) and because those upwardly mobile increasingly tend to adopt an individualistic orientation. Moreover, as can be seen from our data, the young Hong Kong workers have espoused a broader conception of the scope of governmental activities and a more activist political role for themselves. Thus, they seem to be psychologically prepared to gain entry into the political arena and try their luck there. Given the fact that in the last decade or so, a growing number of activist intellectuals and students has emerged to initiate organizations among the lower strata (particularly on a community or neighbourhood basis) to strive for their "rights", bridges linking up society and polity are slowly taking shape. In this new context, a serious economic downturn in Hong Kong can plunge the Colony into political trouble if no measures are taken to alleviate it.

NoteIncludes bibliographical references
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