De-Triadization through a Protestant Intervention


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Awarding Institution
Award date12 May 2020


Triad criminal groups have been entrenched in Hong Kong for centuries. Neither correctional services nor interventions have reported effectiveness in terminating their criminal activities. However, several Protestant groups in Hong Kong are currently offering Triad-oriented religious services and regularly gathering numbers of Triad members. Driven by this social phenomenon, the present study initiates an investigation of Protestant intervention on Triad desistance.

Scholars have also identified a positive relationship between religion and crime desistance. However, previous studies have solely focused on youth delinquency, street gangs, and drug abusers, not the Triad society, which has a historical background, is large in size, and has a well-organised structure. Since rehabilitation of Triad members is seldom the focus of Triad-related studies, investigation into the effect of religion on Triad members has been absent in the field.

To conceptualise de-Triadization and investigate the current Protestant intervention, Glaser’s grounded theory methodology was adopted to construct a new explanation for the Protestant intervention with Triad members. For this study, I interviewed experienced clergy members in Triad-oriented services (n=5), ex-Triad Christians (n=13), ex-Triad Christians with a dual identity (service user and provider, n=16), and stakeholders (n=4). Through these in-depth interviews, the definition of de-Triadization, practices of Protestant intervention, the process of de-Triadization under the intervention, and evangelical elements facilitating de-Triadization were identified and explained in detail. The findings were compared with the existing literature to demonstrate the differences between desistance and de-Triadization, faith-based intervention, and current Protestant intervention. The Protestant intervention’s success in Hong Kong can be attributed to the fulfilment of needs for Triad members to de-Triadize. Implications and contributions are discussed in the last chapter.

    Research areas

  • De-Triadization, Protestant Intervention, Triad rehabilitation, Grounded theory, Need-fulfillment explanation