Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

Spring 4-2022

Thesis Advisor

Andrew M. Carruthers


value, aspiration, identity, Hong Kong, emigration


In 2019, a new emigration wave began in Hong Kong following a series of anti-government social movements. As a response to the movements, the Chinese government implemented the National Security Law in June 2020. In the following year, Hong Kong witnessed a 1.2% decline in the city’s population. Centering on the relation between evaluation, aspiration, and anticipation, this thesis explores how changes in the sociopolitical environment are influencing the emigration decisions of Hong Kong’s people. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six interlocutors. I first explore how the interlocutors conceptualize their identities. Next, I discuss how their modes of identification alter meanings assigned to recent social changes in Hong Kong. Finally, by examining my interlocutors’ emigration narratives, I highlight how emigration decisions are rooted in aspirations and anticipations, restricted and facilitated by external forces, and mediated by shifting exposures and current situations. I argue that because a Hong Kong identity is constructed largely upon values and qualities different and readily differentiable from those of mainland Chinese, recent social changes (understood as an increased integration into China) place Hong Kong’s people in a new reality where their values are contested, and where decisions to emigrate become means through which aspirations, identities, and futures are negotiated and reformed.



Date Posted: 07 June 2022


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