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i8o China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Benjamin K. P. Leung. Perspectives on Hong Kong Society. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1996. vi, 202 pp. Paperback $24.95 (HK $115), isbn 0-19-586535-9. Hong Kong, the most hyperactive little dragon in East Asia, moves and shakes, like all Chinese dragons, because of the people inside. Since the 1950s, these people—mostiy first- generation immigrants from China and their Hong Kongborn children—have helped to transform the colony from an entrepôt into a world metropolis. As China took a radically different approach to economics, politics, and culture, Hong Kong was forced out of its entrepôt role and evolved into a manufacturing and business center with world-class standards of technology , infrastructure, and law. During the same period, Hong Kong incubated the most prolific movie industry per capita in East Asia, while its popular songs began to entertain Chinese-speaking populations from Beijing to Boston. By the mid1980s , with rising pride, Hong Kong people identified themselves more often as "Hong Kong-ese" than as "Chinese." On July 1, 1997, the territory became a special administrative region (SAR) of China, yet Hong Kong remains a complex and distinctive society, and deserves its own sociology. Since the 1950s, anthropologists have worked in the old villages of Hong Kong's New Territories, but there was little sociological research on urban Hong Kong, apart from a few projects related to social or policy problems, in the 1950s and 1960s. As tertiary education expanded rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, however , a small group ofyoung sociologists in the universities began to study this increasingly distinctive society. Nowhere in Asia were sociologists so free to study a Chinese society, or to investigate issues such as political conflict, social class, and corruption. Many of these studies were published by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, or by the Social Sciences Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong. Benjamin K. P. Leung's book is essentially a review of this developing literature. In the introductory chapter, Leung begins with an outline of the economic development of Hong Kong, particularly in the post-World War II period, and die accompanying changes in the labor force. Subsequent chapters deal widi social class and social mobility (chapter 2); culture and society (chapter 3); family and society (chapter 4); deviance, crime, and social control (chapter 5); social policy (chapter 6); social conflict and social movements (chapter 7); and the de-© 1998 by University velopment toward a representative government (chapter 8). ofHawai i PressControversies among Hong Kong sociologists are not neglected. Did the rapidly growing strata of managers, professionals, and white-collar workers in the 1980s comprise a self-conscious class with some common political interests in re- Reviews 181 gard to democratization, or were these growing strata a fragmented mix ofoccupational groupings with quite different political interests and allegiances? Did the business elites lose some oftheir political influence with the rise ofthis "middle class" and the aggressive political pressure groups that some ofthem organized or supported, or has the business elite actually gained in political power during the restructuring of the Hong Kong political system? Has industrialization in Hong Kong produced a nuclear family in the manner suggested by some functionalists, or has industrialization instead produced a variant ofthe extended family adapted to urban life and participating vigorously, using a family-centered calculus, in the industrial economy? Has the Hong Kong economy produced a relatively open social structure over the past twenty years, with considerable opportunity for upward mobility, as most Hong Kong people believe, or is mo3bility out of the working class relatively difficult? Leung provides a good review of the research that addresses these questions. Some closely related questions could have been addressed, but were not. For example, the rapid growth ofthe tertiary sector and the rise of the new "middle class" have overlapped with an even more rapid deindustrialization ofthe Hong Kong economy as manufacturers have moved factories across the border into China during the past ten years to take advantage ofmuch lower labor costs and land rents. Leung mentions this phenomenon only in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 180-183
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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