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The symbolic meanings and practice of shopping malls in Hong Kong beyond consumption: a case study of Kwai Chung Plaza

Siu Fung Cheung (Department of Sociology, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Social Transformations in Chinese Societies

ISSN: 1871-2673

Article publication date: 28 February 2023




This study aims to examine the symbolic meanings of the local shopping malls inscribed by the shoppers from the sociocultural lens other than merely departing from the economic dimensions.


In this research, Kwai Chung Plaza was adopted as the case study. The author interviewed 12 local shoppers through an in-depth individual interview. All interviewees were selected through convenience and snowball sampling. All names of the participants in this paper are kept pseudonymous to protect their privacy.


An integrated model, which consists of three major levels, namely, the spatial, individual and community levels, has been formed to show that the shopping mall was not merely a place for buy-and-sell transactions but rather a place that could be understood as an extension of the street, a body of collective memories and a place for Hongkongers.

Research limitations/implications

The most significant limitation of this study was the lack of a diversified demographic profile adding that the sample was restricted to the young generation. It is recommended that future research should consider including interviews with middle-aged and old-aged shoppers to ensure the generalizability of results. Future research may also consider examining other small/medium-sized shopping malls for comparison.


The findings demonstrated the diversified social roles and functions of the local shopping malls in a community. In addition, the present study, to the author’s knowledge, is one of the few scholarly discussions on small/medium-sized shopping malls from a sociocultural perspective.



The author would like to express sincere gratitude to Dr Tsang Chung Kin for his guidance and support in various stages of the research. Furthermore, the author would like to thank all respondents who shared their own stories and views towards their daily shopping experience.


Cheung, S.F. (2023), "The symbolic meanings and practice of shopping malls in Hong Kong beyond consumption: a case study of Kwai Chung Plaza", Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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