ABOUT SOCIAL MOBILITY RESEARCH

 

OVERVIEW

We at Project Share are engaged in a long-term, multi-disciplinary social science research project on youth, stagnating social mobility, and marginality in Tin Shui Wai and neighboring communities in Hong Kong.  This research seeks to make legible the contemporary intersection of global and local forces that severely limit life opportunities – both inter and intra generational – for far too many of Hong Kong’s young people.

We intend for this research to be used to better understand how to equip marginal youth with the skills and resources that they need to increase their chances in life in one of the world’s most developed, and unequal, economies.  We also intend for this research to be a platform from which to impact discussions in Hong Kong on urgent issues of inequality and social marginality, and understandable, and growing, disaffection among many young people.

What we are doing is unusual.  We are a small non-profit organization.  Yet we are investing a considerable amount of our resources into researching the problems that we are passionate about helping redress.  Economic disparities in Hong Kong are stark, and they have been growing for decades.  This is apparent from statistical information that is there for anyone who cares to look, though they tell only part of the story of inequality and marginality in Hong Kong.  NGOs conducting outreach and programmatic “on the ground” work understand many of the social and cultural realities that are also integral to understanding the consistency, quickening pace, and deeper entrenchment of various forms of marginality in Hong Kong, and how people experience and navigate them. However, they often lack the particular research expertise – and the time – to put this understanding into a broader analytical and theoretical framework.

Many scholars in Hong Kong are already importantly engaged with these issues, but in our view there is often a disconnection between their work and that of NGOs and others working on these issues.  Further, more needs to be done to ground often distant kinds of analysis within long-term ethnographic approaches, linking together economic, social, and cultural factors in ways that reveal interconnections between these different analytical modes, and in understanding the specific ways in which inequality and marginality are being (re)produced and experienced in Hong Kong.

Our goal is for our research and its related work, this site included, to usefully bridge these gaps by informing our own work and that of the many other that share similar goals with empirically grounded, long-term ethnographic and related research.  We also hope that this provides factual and intellectual resources for public conversations on inequality and social marginality in Hong Kong.

We have begun cooperation with a number of like-minded scholars who have agreed to consult on and support our work.  We seek more such cooperation.

METHODOLOGY

Our research is employing a mixed qualitative and quantitative approach that includes extended ethnographic fieldwork, participant-observation, formal and semi-formal interviews, spatial analysis, and focus groups, as well as statistical and demographic forms of analysis.

Our cultural anthropologist, Dr. Ming, began ethnographic research in the summer of 2015 and will continue through the summer of 2016.  His work focuses on relationships between space and community, and how this impacts young people.  Our youth and international education specialist, Dr. Spires has recently completed qualitative research in the summer of 2015, focused on a variety of formal and informal educational issues.  We are currently completing a large-scale quantitative survey on youth and issues of social and cultural capital in Tin Shui Wai under the direction of Ms. Xinyi Duan.

For more information about this research project, please feel free to contact us at kevinming@projectsharehk.org.

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OUR PEOPLE

Dr. Kevin Ming
Research Director for Project Share.  Dr. Ming received his PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, where he is a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology and a Center Associate in Asian Studies in the University Center for International Studies, and his MA in Chinese Cultural Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Dr. Ming is a former Fulbright Fellow with specializations in relationships between urban space, gender, mobility, and lived marginality in southern China and Hong Kong, and has several years of experience conducting ethnographic research in the region.

Dr. Robert Spires
Assistant Professor of education at Valdosta State University in the United States, with research specializations in international education, and relationships between social mobility, vulnerability, and education.  Dr. Spires has conducted extensive research on these issues in Thailand, and has worked with Project Share since the summer of 2014, including two months of recent field research in Hong Kong.

Xinyi Duan
Received her BA from Princeton where she studied economics and political philosophy.  She later attended NYU’s Stern School of Business where she also conducted socio-psychological research focusing on behavioral approaches and experimental design.  She is currently pursuing her PhD at Princeton.