The courses of the Department attempt to provide students with a basic knowledge of sociological andanthropological concepts theories, and methods, applying these to the empirical study of topics which have some relevance to contemporary Hong Kong. Thus in addition to basic courses in theory and methods, regionally there are courses on Hong Kong itself, China and other Asian societies and topically there are courses on a wide range of sub-fields within sociology.



發現藝術:花婆婆的藝術世界  Discovering Art – Fa Po Po's World 

花婆婆賣花數十載,勤儉刻苦,養大四名子女。頤養天年之時,在家人鼓勵下提起畫筆,以平凡的傢俬傢俱代替畫布作畫。由於心中有花,所以畫畫無師自通。題材除了以各種各樣的花卉為主外、還有動物、其他人物和自身往事的印象等,將日常生活所見和想像力結合,別樹一格。 亦為別人捨棄之物重新賦予新生命,更具環保意義。
藝術為本具天賦的花婆婆帶來不少幸福。她的作品不乏知音,經常以畫會友,並獲得著名藝術家青睞,吸引各大傳媒報導, 包括香港電台節目《好想藝術》。花婆婆的孫女也為她開設了Facebook專頁「Fapopo 花婆婆」,現已有數千人「讚好」(like),來自世界各地。 2014年尾,荃灣一個大型商場更為花婆婆舉辦了一個個人作品展,與眾分享。
The Department of Sociology is honored to exhibit Fa Po Po’s work at MC3@702 Creative Space. She will be meeting fellow colleagues, students at the exhibition opening on Monday 19 January, 2015, at 6p.m.
Fa Po Po made a living and raised four children by selling flowers. When she retired, she picked up the paintbrush and discovered her talent. She did not learn painting from a school or a teacher, but flowers stem naturally from her mind. Apart from painting flowers, which is her best known signature, she also combines what she sees in her daily life with her imagination and produced works consisting animals, human portraits and episodes of her past experiences. The fact that she paints on abandoned furniture and household objects such as wardrobe, mirror, and fans, etc. connects her works with the environmental protection agenda.
Art has brought big fortune to Fa Po Po—not in the sense of financial gain but in terms of friendship and social recognition. Her work first caught the attention of a prestigious Hong Kong artist and then widely reported by mass media through television programmes, magazines and newspapers, including the RTHK TV documentary Artspiration. Young people and students also love to visit her and listen to her stories. Her grand-daughter started a Facebook page “Fapopo 花婆婆” with now thousands of “likes” from all over the world. In late 2014, a major shopping mall in Tsuen Wan featured her solo exhibition.
Art comes from life, and art transforms life--this is what Fa Po Po illustrates. Please refer to the following details if you would like to see for yourself this hidden gem!

Opening amd Meeting Fa Po Po 開幕及與花婆婆見面
Date: 19 January 2015 (Monday)
Time: 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Language: English and Cantonese
Venue: MC³@702, The Jockey Club Tower, HKU Centennial Campus, HKU

Exhibition 展覽
Date: 20 January 2015 (Tuesday) – 14 February 2015 (Saturday)
Venue: MC³@702, The Jockey Club Tower, HKU Centennial Campus, HKU

Opening hours:
Mon - Fri: 10:30am - 6:00pm 
Sat:  11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays


For further information on Fa Po Po
Fapopo 花婆婆Facebook Page專頁:

For further information on MC³@702 Creative Space
Facebook Page專頁:

All are welcome



Social Theory and The Quality of Empirical Evidence


The lecture will aim to convey a message about the indispensable role that concepts play in all kinds of empirical knowledge about society. This has implications for the ways in which intellectual communities should approach empirical research, entailing a much more important role for social theory than is ordinarily allowed. The interest that both social scientists and lay actors  - from journalists, through social activists or policy-makers, to ordinary citizens - show in the world entails a combination of: i) a ‘way of seeing’, which inevitably involves concepts, even when they remain unnoticed; and ii) empirical evidence about the world which is perceived and interpreted on the basis of that way of seeing. This means that the quality of evidence within any real-world account is closely tied to the relationship between this evidence and the concepts inbuilt into its way of seeing the world. The lecture will explore various aspects of this relationship and highlight their implications for all kinds of social analysis.

Tue 10th February,2015,Time: 4:40 pm, 
Social Sciences Chamber, 11/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU


Biographical ProfileProf. Robert Stones

Robert Stones is Professor of Sociology at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. He was previously Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex in the UK. During his time at Essex he held positions as Head of the Department of Sociology and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He has published extensively in the areas of social and sociological theory and on their use in empirical case study research. He is well known for developing the approach of Strong Structuration Theory, which has been taken up by empirical researchers in many fields. His most recent book, Why Current Affairs Needs Social Theory (2015), provides the conceptual tools for audiences for news and current affairs to bring greater sophistication to their interpretations, and was written to emphasize the public value of social theory. He also works on the relation between political sociology and political philosophy, on the political ethics of higher education, on the political sociology of Thailand, on theorising international migration, and on theorising the role of technology in healthcare. He edits two book series for Palgrave Macmillan, Traditions in Social Theory and Themes in Social Theory, and a new book series for Anthem Press, Successful Societies.

All are welcome

Department of Sociology and Centre for criminology


The 'Thinking globally about crime' series:

A proactive response to policing online fraud: An Australian case study


Online fraud poses unique challenges to law enforcement across the world, given its occurrence in the virtual world and often multi-jurisdictional nature. Approaches to online fraud need to be different compared to more traditional methods of policing, which are reactive in nature and occur once a victim reports a crime to police authorities. In the case of online fraud, this is not the most effective or appropriate response given that many victims fail to recognise their involvement in fraud. There is also a strong stigma and sense of embarrassment that exists for online fraud victims, which acts as a barrier to victim reporting. 
This presentation discusses the need for a proactive approach to the problems posed by online fraud. It presents the case study of Project Sunbird as an Australian example of a partnership approach between the West Australian Police and the West Australian Department of Commerce. It presents evidence which demonstrates the positive value that a different approach has to both victims and police agencies alike. Overall, it highlights the need to rethink traditional policing approaches to online fraud and the potential benefits of exploring how a proactive response could further be implemented in this area. 

February 11, 2015 Wednesday,12:30pm
CPD3.01, 3/F, Centennial Campus, HKU

Dr Cassandra Cross is a Lecturer at the School of Justice, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, based in Brisbane, Australia. Her main research focus is on the area of online fraud, including policing, prevention and victim support services. 
In 2011, Dr Cross was awarded the Donald Mackay Churchill fellowship to examine the prevention and support services available to online fraud victims. This enabled her to travel to the UK, USA and Canada to learn about and discuss online fraud as a global problem. Since then, she has continued to work in this field, assisting several Australian police agencies with their approaches to online fraud victims. 
She is currently completing the first national study focused on the reporting and victim support services of online fraud victims (with colleagues Dr Kelly Richards and Dr Russell Smith). This project was funded by the federal government’s Criminology Research Grants scheme and is due for completion in mid-2015. 

All are welcome

Thinking Globally about Crime & Society: Early Career Forum


The merits and demerits, promises and pitfalls of ‘participatory youth research’
Dr Lisa Whittaker, University of Glasgow 

Participatory methods have become very popular in youth research. Many projects and studies have used some form of participatory research. Once quite rare, they have almost now become standard. Participatory methods are said to allow the researcher to gather ‘data’ that may not have been obtained via traditional forms of enquiry. By enabling and empowering those who have direct experience of the subject matter to conduct the research, it is argued that this may, in turn, generate different insights and solutions to problems which may better inform and influence policy. And young people are also said to gain new skills, through the research, that will be useful or them in the future. Some researchers, however, have struck a note of caution.
This paper draws on qualitative research from an ongoing participatory study with young people in Glasgow, some with experience of homelessness and many with experience of poverty. Specifically this paper will discuss the merits and demerits of participatory research, for example: to what extent can young people really be empowered through doing research? Can we ever overcome the power imbalance of the research relationship? Is it really possible to train young people as researchers in the usually limited periods of time made available for this? Does this approach really ‘reach the parts that other methods cannot’? What if the topics young people choose as important are not the ones that the funding body consider to be priorities? Who really benefits from participatory youth research?  Is voluntary participation the best way to secure a representative view of young people’s experiences and opinions? How can we avoid excluding certain groups of young people?

Tue 27th January,2015,Time: 1-2pm, 
Room 929, Jockey Club Tower, The Centennial Campus, HKU.

Dr Lisa Whittaker is a Research Assistant at the University of Glasgow and has been working on a comparative study of youth leisure between Scotland and Hong Kong ‘(Re)Imagining Youth’, since November 2013. Lisa is also Research Officer for the Poverty Alliance (a membership organisation working to address issues related to poverty and social exclusion).  Prior to this Lisa completed her PhD at the University of Stirling in 2011. Her thesis ‘Young and Unemployed: Giving and Getting Recognition in Peer Groups and Online’ explored the experiences of young people taking part in employability training programmes and how these experiences shaped their identities.

Contact Lisa via email or Twitter @LisaWhittaker02

This early career forum provides a platform for local and international scholars to exchange ideas, present findings and discuss methods. Coffee and sandwiches will be provided. For inquiries, please email Dr Alistair Fraser on

All are welcome


"The Power of Instability: Protests, Market and Bargained Authoritarianism in China" Ching Kwan Lee

2nd March 2015, 11.30 am
Social Sciences Chamber, 11/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

This talk develops an interactive and relational conception of infrastructural state power for studying authoritarian regimes’ capacity to absorb popular protests. Based on an ethnography of the grassroots state in moments of unrest in China, I identify three micro-foundations of Chinese authoritarianism: protest bargaining, legal-bureaucratic absorption, and patron-clientelism. Adopting the respective logic of market exchange, rule-bound games and inter-personal bonds, these mechanisms have the effect of depoliticizing social unrest and constitute a lived experience of authoritarian domination as non-zero sum, totalizing and transparent yet permissive of rooms for maneuvering and bargaining. This heuristic framework calls for bringing the subjective experience of subordination back in to the theorizing of state domination.

Ching Kwan Lee is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. A native of Hong Kong, she obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and has previously taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research focuses on labour, gender, political sociology, comparative and global ethnography, Global South and China. She is the author of two award winning books: Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women (University of California Press 1998), and Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (University of California Press 2007). She is currently completing a book manuscript titled The Specter of Global China: Contesting Chinese Capital on the Zambian Copperbelt, which is a comparative ethnography of China’s engagement with African labour and government in Zambia.

All are welcome


The Arc of Civil Liberation: Obama–Tahrir–Occupy  

30th January, 4.00-6pm
Social Sciences Chamber, 11/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Despite anxieties about the growing power of neo-liberalism, the crisis of the EU and the upsurge of right-wing political movements, it is important to recognize that utopian movements on the left have also in recent years been symbolically revitalized and organizationally sustained. This article analyses three recent social upheavals as utopian civil society movements, placing the 2008 US presidential campaign of Barack Obama, the Egyptian uprising in Tahrir Square and the Occupy Movement in the USA inside the narrative arc that began with the non-violent democratic uprisings against authoritarian governments four decades earlier. In this new utopian surge, however, there is an unprecedented connection of eastern and western impulses, demonstrating that the tide of democratic thought and action is hardly confined to Judeo-Christian civilizations.

Jeffrey C. Alexander is the Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology and founding Director of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. He works in the areas of social theory, culture, and politics. Among his publications are Theoretical Logic in Sociology (1982-3, 4 volumes), The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology (2003), The Civil Sphere (2006), Performance and Power (2011), The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology (2012, edited with Philip Smith and Ron Jacobs), Trauma: A Social Theory (2012), The Dark Side of Modernity (2013), and Obama Power (2014). Professor Alexander has recently held honorary chairs at the University of Cambridge and the U.S. Library of Congress, and taught at Konstanz University, the Ecoles des Hautes Etudes in Sciences Sociales, and Goldsmiths College. He served as Chair of the sociology departments both at UCLA and Yale.

All are welcome




The 11th Annual Conference of the Hong Kong Sociological Association

The Department of Sociology has hosted the 11th Annual Conference of the Hong Kong Sociological Association (HKSA). [Photo]