A new way of life
: the emergence of political identity and consciousness in Hong Kong, 1945-1979

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis uncovers the meanings underpinning Hong Kong’s ‘way of life’, which was enshrined in the agreement that returned the British colony to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Using five case studies (post-Second World War geopolitics, political organisations, a place, an event, and a policy response), this thesis challenges the official narrative that Hong Kong citizens were either apolitical or primarily concerned with China-centric politics.
This thesis aims to achieve four key objectives. Firstly, to place Hong Kong firmly within the context of the post-war British Empire: an era characterised by re-colonisation, de-colonisation, and the shifting global order under emerging American political primacy. Secondly, it uses Hong Kong as a case study to demonstrate that even in a highly restrictive political system, external and internal forces can exert pressure on governments and result in unanticipated – and sometimes unwelcome – policy changes. Specifically, I present Hong Kong’s emerging political environment as a form of participatory non-democracy, where people participated and influenced government despite the lack of formal mechanisms. Thirdly, and most specifically, it identifies Hong Kong and Hong Kong people, rather than the Hong Kong, British, Chinese, and American governments, as the architects of the territory’s ‘way of life’, identity, and political consciousness. Finally, it makes a case for the emergence of political consciousness and a Hong Kong ‘way of life’ much earlier in the 1960s and 1970s period that numerous scholars have argued.
Date of Award24 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SponsorsSWW Doctoral Training Partnership Panel
SupervisorRobert Bickers (Supervisor) & Amy Edwards (Supervisor)

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