Citizenship education in post-1997 Hong Kong : civic education or nationalistic education?

  • Kit MAN

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


This study investigates citizenship education policy under the “One Country, Two Systems” model in Hong Kong. A number of studies have analyzed the Hong Kong-China national unification from the political, legal, economic, socio-cultural perspectives. This study approaches Hong Kong-China integration from the hotly contested issue of nationalistic education, attempted to be implemented by the Hong Kong government in the official school curriculum. I use as my data sources official documents issued by government agencies including the Chief Executive’s annual Policy Address, an internal report of the Commission on Strategic Development, and curriculum guides of the Curriculum Development Council to tease out the citizenship qualities desired by the Hong Kong government for the younger generation.

Historians and social scientists distinguish between civic and ethnic types of citizenship or nationalism. While the civic model is often perceived as intrinsically liberal, voluntarist, universalist and inclusive, its ethnic “blood-and-soil” counterpart is usually associated with illiberal, authoritarian, ascriptive, particularist and excusive connotations. The widely discussed civic/ethnic dichotomy in citizenship and nationalism literature is used as the analytical framework to examine elements proposed by the government in its citizenship education documents. My research points out that the citizenship education policy in post-1997 Hong Kong under the dual process of state and national building is a hybridization of the civic/ethnic conceptions, in which the ethnic components dominate over the civic ones.

I further argue that the “One Country, Two Systems” model is about the struggle between the civic and ethnic conceptions of citizenship rather than capitalism and communism. I also discuss the implications of the government’s pro-ethnic conception of citizenship education on political culture and rights of ethnic minority in Hong Kong, and the implication on the literature of sociology of citizenship.
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Sociology and Social Policy
SupervisorHau Nung Annie CHAN (Supervisor) & Leung Sea Lucia SIU (Supervisor)

Cite this