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  • Education and Principle-based Opinion

Education and Principle-based Opinion

A Study of the Right of Abode Controversy in Hong Kong

Joseph Man Chan, Kenneth K.L. Chau, Francis L.F. Lee

English , 2000/01 HKIAPS, Occasional Paper Series Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK

Tags: Hong Kong Studies

215 x 140 mm , 58pp ISBN / ISSN : 978-962-441-111-9

  • US$4.50

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Education is one of the fundamental variables shaping people's political opinions. Past studies in the West have shown that education increases people's support for abstract democratic principles, but not necessarily for concrete policies implementing the principles. This paper examines the impact of education on opinion formation in Hong Kong. Do people with different educational levels hold different opinions regarding abstract social principles? How does people's support for principles and how does their calculation of concrete self-interests enter their opinions on policies? The right of abode controversy in 1999 provides a test case of these questions. Drawing on two surveys, we have found that in Hong Kong tertiary education has an enlightening effect on people's support for and application of social principles, especially during the early stage of the controversy. Tertiary education is also observed to be negatively related to people's concern for social interest. Another major finding of this study is that people with a secondary level of education have the weakest principle-opinion relationship and shows the strongest concern for social interest. The findings will be explained by referring to both theoretical perspectives and situational factors, such as the underdevelopment of democracy in Hong Kong and civic education in its school system.

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