“Democracy! Not Just for Locals but for us too!”

Exploring Multi-Ethnic Young People’s Calls for Social Change in Hong Kong through Cellphilms

in Democracy 2.0


In 2014, Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement gripped the city as young people organized mass occupations of its streets and digital spaces to interrogate its political system, relationship to China, and its identity. In light of this youth-led call for democratic reform, Hong Kong’s multi-ethnic young people’s conceptualizations of what it means to belong, and to engage politically, need to be interrogated. Capitalizing on young people’s everyday media practices—such as cellphone video making (cellphilming)—may be democratizing as DIY (Do It Yourself) media-making may challenge traditional political and media structures. At the same time, the democratizing claims of participatory visual research need to be unsettled within Hong Kong’s specific socio-political context. This study describes eight young people’s reflections on the Occupy Movement, a close reading of two cellphilm productions, and an archive of these cellphilms on YouTube as instances of civic engagement. In these reflections, youth both discuss and problematize their realities, while making recommendations for social change. While youth-produced cellphilms were found to provide these young people the opportunity to express and share their understandings of democracy and civic engagement, the study also highlights the tensions between calls for democracy in participatory visual research projects in a changing Hong Kong.

Democracy 2.0

Media, Political Literacy and Critical Engagement


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