Engagement and conflict in Hong Kong planning: a post-political inquiry

Change log
Lee, Hoi 

Informed by the theory of post-politics, this PhD explores public engagement and conflict in Hong Kong planning. It seeks to develop a deeper understanding of the escalating antagonism in the city, as well as to improve theory by probing post-politics’ applicability to a non-Western context. This thesis begins with an introduction to planning theory, particularly the emergence of post-politics as a popular lens in the analysis of contemporary planning practice. Hong Kong’s political context and planning system are also reviewed. This leads onto a deeper investigation in Chapter 2 of how the city’s situation may diverge from theory. Chapter 3 presents the methodology, with a particular focus on discourse analysis. The challenges brought about by Covid-19 and political changes in Hong Kong are also discussed.

Chapter 4 to 6 contain my empirical findings. Chapter 4 concerns a land supply consultation exercise which aimed to achieve consensus. Drawing on post-politics’ critique, it explores Hong Kong’s tradition of “consensus politics” and studies the techniques the government had used to foreclose debate over the consultation period. Chapter 5 turns to those in resistance, with a focus on rural squatters in Hong Kong. Informed by concepts such as radical democracy and subjectivation, it investigates the construction of meanings and identities by different actors. Chapter 6 looks into the future by reflecting on the implications on resistance as the political space in Hong Kong tightens. In particular, it studies the issue of hope, tracing the shift of its location through different stages of resistance.

Chapter 7 concludes. This thesis has identified the potential of the application of post-politics to non-Western contexts such as Hong Kong, as well as disparities that future studies should take into consideration. It covers two dimensions of post politics — as a governing technique and as a lens to analyse and inform resistance. I argue that this thesis can be taken both as a cautionary tale for the Hong Kong authorities and an inspiration for those in resistance.

Allmendinger, Philip
conflict, Hong Kong, post-politics, public engagement, urban planning
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge