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Experience and coping of employment risks in Hong Kong

May Tam (APSS, The HK Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Chung Yan Ip (Chinese University of Hong Kong, New Territories, Hong Kong)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 11 April 2017




The purpose of this paper is to use the case of Hong Kong to assess the equalisation and individualization claim of the risk society approach to studying experience and coping of employment risks.


Two types of survey data are used: quarterly official surveys from the year of 1993 to 2008 and a cross-sectional territory-wide representative telephone survey conducted in 2009.


The findings show that contrary to the equalisation claim, experiences of employment risks have continued to concentrate on disadvantaged groups: unskilled manual workers and those with education levels below lower secondary school had continuously fared worse than professionals, managers and university degree holders. These disadvantaged groups were also not particularly proactive in adopting either capital-based or work-related coping methods when they encountered unemployment.

Research limitations/implications

The lack of trend data to examine the use of different coping means is one of the main drawbacks of the current study. The study carries important theoretical implications.

Practical implications

Policy implications for the government to provide more comprehensive and proactive employment-related support measures and further expansion of university education.


This paper examines the case of Hong Kong so as to extend the empirical assessment of the risk society approach beyond the Anglo-Saxon context to mature Asian economies. The study further shows that we need to go beyond the secular trend globalisation which the risk society theory emphasises. Historical factors and business-government-labour power relations are critical factors that shape the policies and institutions of labour market regulations and welfare provision in the local context



Tam, M. and Ip, C.Y. (2017), "Experience and coping of employment risks in Hong Kong", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 37 No. 3/4, pp. 166-185.



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