Society and Identity
In recent decades, street protests have captivated attention on a global-scale. Young adults in society, especially those in universities, have been increasingly portrayed as the face behind the waves of mass protests and other forms of collective actions. Available models of collective action have, by and large, been able to account for various mechanisms that predict participation in such movements. However, as this study argues, the attention has largely neglected the role of moral selfhood and its place in the ‘identity-action’ framework of protest studies. The present study attempts to address this void in the context of Hong Kong. In the post-handover territory, recent protests characterized by contentious political actions have brought today’s young adults to the forefront of public scrutiny, where the question of moral selfhood is eclipsed by an almost exclusive focus on the ‘student’ identity and affiliation with radical politics (i.e. localism) as the factors responsible for any outburst of protest.
Integrating moral psychology with a Bourdieusian framework, this mixed-methods study aims to address two questions: (1) How are distinct groups of protest activity participants (or non-participants) similar or different from one another in terms of capital possession, issue-based attitudes and moral convictions, and party identification? (2) In hypothetical political and general dilemmas, in what ways do the different groups differ in their moral emotions, moral evaluation, feeling rules, moral identity discrepancies, and normative or non-normative behaviours? Research results from survey analysis and in-depth interviews with university students in Hong Kong will be presented in my talk.