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Charting the State of Social Cohesion in Hong Kong

Abstract

This paper reports findings from the first social cohesion survey in Hong Kong. Social cohesion is understood as a multi-dimensional concept, having a horizontal dimension which is concerned with both feelings and actions of members of society, and a vertical dimension that taps those between society and the government. It is found that horizontally, society feels cohesive but the feeling is not supported by corresponding behaviour such as participation in organizations and engagement in giving and helping. Vertically, society has much higher trust in bureaucracies of justice administration than the executive branch of the government. The level of civic engagement is respectable despite a general dissatisfaction with government performance. We conclude that however cohesively society feels, it is achieved with little institutional mediation and social engagement. We postulate that this is possible because lending support to advocacy groups, participation in small group activities and close family ties might have rendered institutional mediation less significant.

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An earlier version of this article was presented at the Conference on Social Cohesion, organized by the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Council of Social Service, 28–29 November 2003. The authors would like to thank the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong for funding the questionnaire survey upon which this article is based.
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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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