Social Exclusion and Language: African People in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong has long been an international city. Its strong economy and academic reputation have attracted global talents and laborers from all over the world, among which Africans are rising both quantitatively and socially. Despite the fact that Hong Kong has long been an immigrant society since its colonial years, whether the general environment in Hong Kong has been welcoming for the ethnic minorities remains debatable. Extensive research has investigated the wellbeing of ethnic minorities from various perspectives (e.g., social inequality, identity crisis, cultural barriers), especially of the South Asians in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, few studies have paid close attention to the African community, though multiple media reports have documented myriad forms of social exclusion in their life in Hong Kong. Nor does any current study examine the social exclusion that Africans encounter in Hong Kong from a sociolinguistic perspective. Therefore, this study investigates the role that language plays in social exclusion and anti-exclusion practices in African life in Hong Kong. Adopting Wesselmann et al. (2016) framework for social exclusion and drawing on data from 15 individual interviews, the research set out to answer three questions: 1) how are Africans linguistically ostracized from the community in the workplace, excluded from the various job opportunities, and denied services; 2) how the microaggressions (i.e., subtle everyday explicit/implicit comments, behaviors) downgrade, stigmatize and dehumanize Africans verbally, and thus perpetuate social exclusion. 3) how Africans use language as a tool to contest the existing social inequality and better their life in Hong Kong. Overall, this study will provide a sociolinguistic profile of Africans in Hong Kong. More importantly, it aims to provide some insights to the Hong Kong policy-makers in terms of improving the well-being of Africans and ethnic minorities in general.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2022
EventPostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning : Rethinking Postgraduate Studies in Post-Pandemic Societies - Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Duration: 1 Apr 20222 Apr 2022


ConferencePostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning : Rethinking Postgraduate Studies in Post-Pandemic Societies
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
Internet address


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