Adolescent residents negotiate the construction of social problems in a low-income community : Making claims on the "city of sadness"

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-269
Journal / PublicationSociological Spectrum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


The social constructionist approach to research on social issues provides a conceptual means in understanding how specific problems are generated and handled by institutional claims-makers, including the state and mass media. In neighborhood research, the voice of adolescent residents is seldom heard, let alone the value of their claims in relation to the state's construction. This article endeavors to address this in several steps: by outlining the specific developmental trajectory of low-income community in Hong Kong; by examining the dominant state discourse on the nature and "solution" of community problems; and by analyzing the voice of adolescent residents. Empirically, 54 Chinese adolescents (aged 12 to 17 years) were recruited to participate in eight focus groups to express how they saw community conditions. Furthermore, a random sample of 22 parents of the participants was surveyed as comparison. Finally, the article suggests that adolescents' constructions provide significant opportunities developing more critically informed, "bottom-up" agendas for community revitalization. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.