Public Policy at HKU

Social Cohesion and Governance

The Social Cohesion Research Programme (SCRP) is created under the Public Policy Initiative (PPI) at the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong. Social cohesion is designated as an area of study because it is not only an intellectual concept, but also has wide ranging policy implications. Its importance can be demonstrated by the fact that major international regimes such as the EU, Council of Europe, and OECD all have directives or policies to promote social cohesion. Studies in social cohesion, and efforts to promote it around the world, make a research program in Greater China and Hong Kong all the more relevant and meaningful.

The objective of the SCRP is to study social cohesion in Greater China; with Hong Kong being the focus in the initial phase. The aims of the Hong Kong research is to regularly chart the state of social cohesion in Hong Kong, to identify sources that undermine social cohesion, and to make policy recommendations for the building of a cohesive society. At the initial phase, the SCRP consists of the following three research components:

  1. Charting the state of social cohesion over time as a diagnostic mechanism to spot deficiency in society. A framework that marks various dimensions of social cohesion that can be tendered to international comparison will be adopted to facilitate comprehensive assessment.
  2. Compiling a dataset of protest activities to unveil the underlying reasons leading to conflicts in society, and to identify conflict resolution mechanisms. Having a dataset of protest activities over an extended period of time can lead to a better understanding of societal demands and help track changes in the long term.
  3. Discerning formal structures and programs adopted by different governments and international regimes for the purpose of enhancing social cohesion. Governments and international regimes have set up institutional structures and designed programs to promote social cohesion; learning from buy assignment efforts can be instructional for policy recommendation.

Engagement with society is vital for any cohesion policy. In addition to the research components, the SCRP plans to organize structured dialogues with various sectors of society and stakeholders in coming up with cohesion strategies. These dialogues will be informed by the findings from the research listed above.

 

Project Team: Dr. Elaine Chan, Professor John Bacon-Shone, Professor Joseph Chan
Professor Danny Lam, Dr. Yan Xiaojun, Dr. Wai-man Lam

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