Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)


Social Sciences


Sociology and Social Policy

First Advisor

Prof. BAEHR William Peter

Second Advisor

Prof. CHEN Hon Fai


This research studies the “dynamics” of online shaming in the context of Hong Kong society. The term “online shaming” is generally understood to refer to a form of stigmatization, in which people try to condemn “alleged-deviants”. By introducing Erving Goffman’s and Randall Collins’s discussions on the Interaction Ritual, this research offers a sociological explanation for the phenomenon of online shaming, and the interaction mechanism behind it. In particular, I argue that online shaming is not only a practice of condemning “deviant” actors as it has been usually conceptualized. Rather, it is a dynamic interactive process that revolves around different types of actors and modes of participation (e.g. deliberately shame or defend a person, intentionally withdraw from a shaming event, etc), which is a crucial aspect of online shaming that previous research has yet to address. Fundamentally, I propose to distinguish three forms of online shaming, namely Behavioral Labelling, Publification, and Unmasking. What is of no less importance is the fact that there is an emotional-energy-like force that drives netizens to engage in or disengage from online shaming events, which I call “the sense of companions”. Such a diversity of elements, I argue, define some of the major patterns of online interaction among Hong Kong netizens nowadays.



Recommended Citation

Yip, Y. F. (2019). The dynamics of online shaming: A sociological study of Hong Kong's virtual world (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from