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Being Asylum Seekers in Hong Kong

Institutions, Action and Power

Kerry J. Kennedy, Kin Loon Wong and Hoi-Yu Ng


Most discourse related to refugees has been and continues to be related to humanitarian issues. Yet, humanitarianism as a theoretical framing is no longer sufficient for understanding refugee-fuelled migration. The politics of such migration currently dominate policy discourse and Hong Kong is no exception. Asylum seekers continue to seek refuge in a city that neither wants them, nor is sympathetic towards them. The study reported here seeks to understand this context from the point of view of asylum seekers and their supporters in the community and offers an alternative theoretical framework that reflects Hong Kong asylum seekers’ experiences. A qualitative methodology was employed to understand the contexts and asylum seeker experiences. Results indicated that extraordinary institutional pressure is exerted on asylum seekers who cannot settle in Hong Kong but who, in the meantime, are forced to rely on inadequate social protection to survive.

Contentions and Confirmations over Genetically Modified Technology

Socio-political Construal of Innovations in Rice Biotechnology Research in India

Avinash Kumar and Sambit Mallick


The present study, from sociology of science and technology perspectives, examines the socio-political construal of innovations in rice biotechnology research in India with special reference to genetically modified (GM) technology. The primary data for the study has been collected through in-depth personal interviews with 68 molecular biologists and plant breeders engaged in rice biotechnology research in 20 scientific institutions coming under the aegis of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and State Agricultural Universities (SAU s). Two different case studies have been used to substantiate the arguments. The findings of the study suggest that there is a lack of consensus among the scientific communities over the application of GM technology in rice biotechnology research in India. The initial attempt to develop an Indian version of Golden Rice has failed. The occurrence of multiple anomalies during the experiment of Golden Rice poses serious questions on the scientific and technical reliability of GM technology. Holistically, it has cast doubt on the safety and predictability of Golden Rice in the Indian context. The existing policy framework pertaining to GM technology, particularly technical regulations, suffers from design faults (structural problem) and operator failure (agency failure). The Intellectual Property Rights regime, in one or many forms, appears to obstruct R&D activities in rice biotechnology. The practitioners of rice biotechnology research are resisting such institutional regimes by keeping the Mertonian ethos of science in mind.

Conversational Code Switching

Languaging Chinese Identities in Multilingual Malaysia

Sharon Carstens and Lay Hoon Ang


The mixing of three or more languages in casual conversations, a hallmark of Chinese Malaysian informal speech, expresses a range of sociological and ideological meanings in the ongoing construction of Chinese Malaysian heteroglossic identities. While code-switching patterns sometimes mark different speaker positions, they also express broader language identities and ideologies that transcend individual conversations. This is especially clear when analysing the relative frequency and semantic domains of single lexeme mixing, where English is mostly used for consumer culture, Malay for place names and personal names, and Chinese topolects for expressing emotion. Detailed analysis of 12 adult conversations recorded in natural settings in diverse regions of Malaysia is corroborated by language attitudes expressed in focus groups, Facebook posts, and informal conversations and interviews, revealing the diverse and sometimes contending language ideologies linked to specific languages in the Chinese Malaysian setting.

Jenny Chesters


Although economic growth is regarded as an indicator of the success of an economy and, therefore, an indicator of rising living standards, there is no guarantee that living standards will improve for all members of society unless the benefits derived from economic growth are shared equally. If the wealth generated by economic growth accrues to those at the top of the wealth distribution, levels of inequality will increase. In this paper, I use publicly available data from the World Bank, Credit Suisse, and Forbes Magazine for 11 countries in East Asia/ South East Asia: Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, to examine whether increases in GDP/capita were accompanied by increases in wealth/adult and levels of wealth inequality between 2000 and 2016. In China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, wealth inequality increased substantially despite, or perhaps due to, the rapid expansion of their economies. In other words, it would appear that the rising tide lifted some boats but swamped others.

Go Out and Reconnect

Dynamics of Social Capital and Place in Post-3.11 Community Resilience

Pilvi Posio


This article contributes to research on community resilience by discussing the relationship of sense of place and social capital. On 11 March 2011, Japan was struck by the Great East Japan Disaster, also known as the 3.11 disaster, which greatly damaged, if not entirely destroyed, built environments and dislocated pre-disaster community networks. Although researchers have increasingly emphasised the importance of social capital to community resilience, the reconstruction of people–place relations in post-disaster settings has remained understudied. Based on an analysis of data collected during eight months of ethnographic fieldwork on long-term recovery in Yamamoto, Japan, this article explains how locals there have renegotiated social networks and their sense of place during their temporal, spatial, and social reorientation following the disaster. Overall, the findings reveal how community resilience can be characterised by a co-constructive relationship of sense of place and social capital.

Inclusive Urban Eco-systems

A Case Study on Street Vending Businesses in Markets of Kolkata, India

Richa Sekhani, Deepanshu Mohan and Sneha Roy


Informality, associated with street vendors, is now seen as a generalised mode of metropolitan urbanisation. Street vendors form an important part of several economies around the world and are seen as a vital source of livelihood and employment opportunity for the low-skilled, lower-income class of the population. A closer understanding of profiles of street vendors and the nature of complexities present in the business of street vending—studied through the supply chain processes of product procurement and distribution—helps one in observing an entwined relationship between what are perceived as “informal” or “formal” in the urban ecosystem. This study on street vendors working across Kolkata emphasises the need to adopt an inclusive view to urban “informal” arrangements, providing a comprehensive picture in identified local market spaces. Our research focuses on two critical aspects: (a) capturing samples of oral account(s) from merchants/vendors operating in local markets across Kolkata, and (b) gauging the supply-chain (inventory) process of products procured and sold by street vendors in these markets. The observations made from the field help highlight the complexities present in studying urban supply-chain processes—especially street vending businesses—that form the core of most urban metropolises in cities (such as Kolkata) and are representative of the Global South.