Caillie TAM

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy (MPHIL)


Sociology and Social Policy

First Advisor

Prof. David. R. PHILLIPS

Second Advisor

Dr. KennethW. K. LAW


Adopting the contextual social constructionist perspective on social problems, the present study investigates how older people are portrayed in two public affairs television documentaries in Hong Kong over a period of two decades. There were The Hong Kong Connection (produced by the public service broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong); and Chasing Current Affairs (produced by a commercial broadcaster, Asia Television Limited). A mixture of research designs was employed in the analysis, namely: (1) content analysis on the documentary episodes, (2) reviews of government documents and (3) in-depth interviews with social workers and the staff engaged in documentary episode productions. A total of 89 older characters in the 39 surveyed episodes were analyzed.

The research questions in the present study include asking: 1) what are the trends and changes in the portrayal of older people in public affairs documentary episodes 2) are there any differences in the portrayal of older people with respect to economic conditions, self-care abilities and the overall personal traits between public service and commercial broadcasters and 3) are there any gender differences in these areas as portrayed in the episodes. The findings of the research indicated that the major themes of the surveyed public affairs documentary episodes are quite “negative”, in particular, episodes produced in the period between 1987 and 1996. However, the depiction of older people in the episodes have generally been improving during the past decade.

Recommended Citation

Tam, T. C. (2009). Exploring the television portrayal of older people in Hong Kong: A study of two public affairs documentary series (Master's thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from

Included in

Gerontology Commons