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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Youth-Led Social Identity and Movements: A Case Study of Youth Activism in Hong Kong


This paper explores the forces which spark youth activity in global social movements with a focus on Hong Kong youth as a case study. The three factors which propel youth activism–youth social identity, youth’s desire to be heard, and a rise in online activism–are present in historic and contemporary social movements globally. The same factors are also present in youth-led Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. In response to China’s authoritarian political agenda, Hong Kong youth have solidified their identity as Hong Kongers rather than Chinese. Through public displays of opposition, they have ensured that their voices are acknowledged by adults. Moreover, with social media, youth have mobilized each other exponentially furthering the movement’s efforts. The more that China attempts to exert their control over Hong Kong, the stronger the youth continue to resist.

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