Advertising Hong Kong’s Modern Domestic Ideal: An Analysis of Hong Kong Newspaper Advertisements on Hong Kong Residential Properties and Domestic Products from 1946 to 2008

Project: Research

View graph of relations


Over the last few decades, Hong Kong has changed from a poor community of refugees to awealthy society. Scholars argue that Hong Kong people have changed their domestic idealfrom the need for basic shelter that was evident in the 1950s to a concern for quality andstylish living, which started in the 1980s. Scholars (Ng, 2000; Cheng, 2001; Rooney, 2003;Cheung & Ma, 2005; Lee, 2013) have contended that the modern home in Hong Kong is theresult of government policy mixed with the vision promoted by private developers,accelerated by the media, and supported by the middle class.Modern domestic ideal is a social construction, and the social meaning of home iscomplicated. It is an economic investment, a social marker, as well as a symbol ofachievement and reward, an identity reassurance, and even a family ethos. How doesadvertising construct and promote the modern domestic ideal in Hong Kong? Is theadvertisement-mediated domestic ideal changing throughout history, in line with thedemographic, social, and political upheavals of Hong Kong society? What visual codes andcultural expression newspaper advertisements use to sell the residential properties andproducts? Have advertisers changed their themes and expression during property marketcycle? What ideas, values, and the “obscured structures of power” (Wodak, 1999: 8) do theseadvertisements represent and promote?The study of advertisements as representation is important, since representation developsdiscourses and regulates social relations. Although there is an enormous volume of literatureon Hong Kong housing (Lee, 2013; Chan, 2011; Jones, 2003; Smart, 2003; Sullivan & Chen,1997; Xue, Hui & Zang, 2013; Yip, Forrest & Grange, 2007; Li, 2008; Jayantha & Hui,2012), there are few systemic studies on Hong Kong property advertisements (Cheng, 2001;Cheung & Ma, 2005) and none on the relation between domestic products and the HongKong domestic ideal. Besides, these property advertisements studies do not map the trend andpattern of the advertisements’ themes, cultural and visual codes on Hong Kong housingdevelopment systematically and historically. The main purpose of this research is to addressthis gap in the knowledge.Through systematic content analysis and textual analysis, I will use newspaperadvertisements as empirical resources to identify recurring themes, codes, and expressions to(1) analyze the patterns of continuity and change of advertisement-mediated domestic idealhistorically, and (2) examine the visual codes and cultural expressions employed byadvertisers to market Hong Kong’s residential properties and domestic products in differenttime periods. Since newspaper advertisements tie up a particular type of ideal subjectivitywith the ideal home that the developers and the advertisers are selling, the research aims toexplore (3) the symbolic effects on social and cultural classification—how newspaperadvertisements on housing and domestic products produce, reproduce, or subvert certainsubjectivity and lifestyles in textual moments.While the primary goal of the research project is to produce journal articles that discuss theaforementioned issues, the project will also build up an online database of the collectedadvertisements, so that the database can serve as a useful tool for knowledge productionamong students, researchers, and interested public.


Project number9042436
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1715/06/20

    Research areas

  • modern domestic ideal , representation , advertising , housing , Hong Kong