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Raymond K H CHAN

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					                               Social Quality in Hong Kong:
                               Who cares? Which quality?



Raymond K H CHAN
City University of Hong Kong
Social Quality
 ‘the extent to which people are able to participate in the social and
 economic life and development of their communities under conditions
 which enhance their wellbeing and individual potential’ (van der Maesen
 & Walker, 2005:11-12)
            Domains and Sub-domains of Social Quality

     Socio-economic Security                Social cohesion
      Financial resources                    Trust
      Housing and the environment            Other integrative norms and values
      Health and care                        Social networks
      Work and education                     Identity
     Social inclusion                       Social empowerment
      Citizenship rights                     Knowledge base
      Labour market                          Labour market
      Services (public and private)          Openness & supportiveness of
      Social networks                          institutions
                                             Personal relations
Hong Kong Context
• Centralized administrative state with limited democratic
  participation but supplemented with many consultative
  committees
• Faith in free market and liberalism
• High level of economic and ‘social’ development
• Service economy
• Ethnic Chinese dominated society though claimed to be an
  international city
• Conservative Confucian cultures on family and individual
  roles
Socio-economic Security
• Satisfactory performance
• Relatively low unemployment rate and reasonable income to the majority
• Situation for the vulnerable labor groups – low skill, low education, low
  income, middle-aged
• Elementary worker: 496,800 (1995)  627,100 (2005), i.e. 18% of the
  workforce
• Low income workers: increased by 48.7% from 1995 to 2005
• Casual worker: 2.4% / Part time worker: 5.3% of the total workforce
• Flexible labor market emphasized with lesser employment protection

• Their livelihood protected by the heavily subsidized public housing (half
  of the population living in subsidized housing), health and education
  services through taxation, at a living standard comparable to lower class
Social Inclusion
• Access to housing basically maintained, though family applicants have to
  wait for 2 years on average for PRH
• Caring and housing for elderly is a problem (limited caring institution, lack
  of retirement protection, no public health insurance scheme)
• Majority of Hong Kong people have citizenship and therefore access to
  public services
• Majority of them have the right to vote, but only 60% register and among
  them less than 60% did vote which reflects a lack of interest / trust on the
  political system
• Ethnic minority (esp. South / Southeast Asians) living condition received
  more attention in recent years
• Lacking concept of social citizenship (responsibilities > rights) though
  more services are enjoyed on the basis of citizenship
Social Empowerment
• Access to education is satisfactory except higher education
• Access to information is satisfactory but problem of digital
  divide is there
• No excessive control on rally, demonstration, public
  meetings
• Low participation in trade union and social organizations
• Political system still highly centralized with limited
  democracy
• No effective mediating organizations that helps to integrate
  different parts together vertically
Social Cohesion
• A growing sense of attachment and local identity
  since mid-1980s
• Social tension and political crisis since 1997
• Low level of generalized trust and low level of social
  participation
• More contend with their family and peer networks
• Might sponsor the idea of collectivism and social
  responsibility but do not have proportional actions
Performances of Social Cohesion
                 Subjective component                    Objective component
                 (attitudes)                             (behavioral manifestation)

Horizontal       Rather strong sense of cohesion but     Respondent did not act as cohesively,
dimension        general trust not pervasive             and help seeking behaviour and
(cohesion in                                             participation in social organizations is
civil society)   Reciprocal index – 5.89                 not common.
                 Commitment index – 6.68                 Helping behavior index – 3.54
                                                         Social involvement index – 2.00
Vertical         Confidence – lost trusts in political   Respondents were concerned about
dimension        institutions in general and the         politics but with fair level of
(society-state   executive branch in particular:         participation in action.
cohesion – how   Confidence in political institution     Political concern index – 6.60
people feel      index – 4.96                            Political participation index – 6.02
about            Confidence in the administration of
government)      justice index – 7.33

                                                         Source: Chan & Chan, 2006: 640
                                                         Note: score above 5.5 represents a satisfactory level
Who care? Which quality?
• More concern on socio-economic security
  than the others, though more sensitive to the
  issues -- social cohesion, inclusion and
  participation
• A highly divided and stratified society
• Neo-liberalism  reform the policy from mere
  protection to productivist
Social Risk Management Strategy
• Lacking a collective orientation and preference to
  individual / family > collective / public sector
• Support a traditional / residual welfare orientation as
  risk management strategies
• Support for private account > social account
• Welfare system sustainable as long as individual
  can sustain
• No strong sense of ‘social’

				
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