Young people Internet use and political participation have become major public concern in Hong Kong and in China. In the protests against the financial clearing of the construction of a high-speed railway (Jan 2010) and the anti national education campaign (August 2012), many young Hong Kong citizens were involved in social policy debate via online platforms and were mobilized to join public protests through the Internet. In China, “Weibo anti-corruption” (November 2012) is arguably one of the important grass root campaigns in China, where young netizens are expectedly highly involved, in driving public sector more transparent.
Competing theories have been introduced to explain the roles of Internet use in driving young people political participation. Some previous studies have suggested that the Internet can mobilize disengaged young citizen’s participation in politics but some others contend that such use of the Internet is primarily dominated by political elites. Numerous research projects have found that youth political characteristics are predictors for online participation in politics. But most studies are conducted in Western context.
Based on two phone surveys on Hong Kong and Beijing young people (18-29 years) respectively, this study aims to examine the pattern of their online use, online/offline political participation, and socio-cognitive attributes and to explore their correlations. The findings will be discussed with respect to the differences of the socio-political settings in both places.
This study is funded by the University of Hong Kong Seed Funding Program for Basic Research.
Dr. King-wa Fu is Assistant Professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC), The University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on young people's Internet use, political participation and media use, computational journalism, and mental health/suicide and the media. He has a PhD from the JMSC, a MA in Social Sciences and a MPhil in Engineering from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He obtained an undergraduate degree in Engineering from HKU. He was a journalist at the Hong Kong Economic Journal. More can be found in his online CV: http://sites.google.com/site/fukingwa/.