Chun On LAI

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)


Sociology and Social Policy

First Advisor

Dr. Siu Leung-sea, Lucia

Second Advisor

Dr. Chan Hau-nung, Annie


The study focus on the ongoing disputes over rural development bring to the fore the competing paradigms and representations of rurality on the part of different rural stakeholders in the New Territories. This study attempt to debunk the conventional image of the rural as a natural, homogenous locality pitted against the urban way of life. Drawing from the qualitative study of twenty-five people who live or often participate in rural activities, the New Territories was an actual space with three co-existing mindsets from three modes of social organization: agricultural, capitalist, post-industrial. These three co-existing mindsets are normally found in many societies experiencing unprecedented rapid social and economic development with rich theoretical and empirical support in global academic research. However, existing academic research in Hong Kong seldom explores the competing images of the rural that may exist amongst different rural stakeholders in the New Territories. Thus, this study will be marking a useful contribution by examining the construction of rurality in Hong Kong.

This study provides a new perspective that ascribed status of indigenous residents, which is unique in Hong Kong contextual background, is an important parameter in constructing individual perception of rurality. The ascribed indigenous identity solidified by blood, history and laws that act like special castes to differentiate Hong Kong people either indigenous or non-indigenous. The presence of ascribed indigenous status as a new parameter easily explains the complexity of individual perception of rurality amongst different rural stakeholders. This study will attempt to connect up the ascribed status of indigenous residents with the three co-existing mindsets based on the modes of social organizations, so as deepen our understanding of the uniqueness of rurality in the Hong Kong context.

Recommended Citation

Lai, C. O. (2015). The making of rurality in Hong Kong: Villagers' changing perception of rural space (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from

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