Home and the materialization of the divergent subjectivities of older women in Hong Kong

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)231-243
Journal / PublicationJournal of Gender Studies
Issue number2
Online published25 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Although the social status of women in Hong Kong has changed significantly in recent decades, Hong Kong women continue to perform mothering, caregiving and homemaking tasks into late adulthood. Employing an agential realist approach to analyse the homes and discursive–materialist practices of three older women, this paper explores how the entanglement of materialities, discourses and subjectivities at home as a site of cultural action contributes to the ongoing enactment of divergent subjectivities of older Hong Kong women. The structural–spatial configurations of the three homes manifest the patrilineal and male-dominated family system in Hong Kong, and such older women perform a set of ‘normal’ (house) wifely and motherly duties linked to the maintenance of the male-dominated family system. Nevertheless, these older women’s subjectivities and their domestic worlds evolve through ongoing discursive–materialist practices. This paper further argues that, even if such factors as materialities, structures and practices either are neutral or indeed reinforce existing power imbalances, the dynamic and ongoing intra-action of these factors results in exclusionary but open conditions that may stabilize or subvert social phenomena, such as the ones discussed in this study: patriarchal domestic practices in Hong Kong homes.

Research Area(s)

  • agential realism, home, Hong Kong, materialities, Older women, subjectivities