This chapter explores the potential responses of community development practice to the proliferation of populist practices in Hong Kong. Populism is an under-researched area in the community development field in Hong Kong, despite the increasing prominence of populism globally and the rising popularity of populist practice in Hong Kong since its return to China in 1997. Studies of populism, particularly right-wing populism, have developed the ‘globalisation loser’ hypothesis (Kriesi et al, 2008; Ramiro and Gomez, 2017). According to this hypothesis, disadvantaged groups, which in the present context include young people, who are frequent users of community development programmes, support right-wing populism. Currently, community workers in Hong Kong are unprepared to respond to this phenomenon. This study is the first stage of a research project examining the implications of populism for community development practice in Hong Kong.
The rest of this chapter is organised as follows. The next section presents a review of the literature on populism, its core features and types, and the meaning of right-wing populism. The social context that has facilitated the growth of populism in recent years is analysed. To contextualise the study, the productivist welfare regime of Hong Kong and the resultant characteristics of community development services in Hong Kong are outlined. The subsequent section presents the research methodology and the findings. The implications of the proliferation of right-wing populism and populist practices for different types for community development are then discussed.
Studies of populism
Studies of populism have revealed its existence in the US since the early 20th century in the form of agrarian populism (see Kazin, 1998; Emejulu and Scanlon, 2016). Left-wing populism has been a feature of South American countries since the mid-20th century (Seligson, 2007; Waller et al, 2017). Among European countries, Ireland is renowned for the populist discourses in its political arena (Suiter, 2016; Ramiro and Gomez, 2017), but populism has been marginal in other European countries since World War II, as right-wing populism was the dominant ideology leading to that war, at least in Germany and Italy (Gonzalez-Vicente and Carroll, 2017; Ottmann, 2017).