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Title: Home ownership and social change in a Chinese society : the case of Hong Kong
Author: Lee, James Kin Ching
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 1995
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In the last two decades, the housing system in Hong Kong has witnessed a slow but steady transition from a tenure dominated by public rental housing to one dominated by private home ownership. This was largely the result of a strong motivation to own property and a government policy promoting owner-occupation. However, the late 80's and the early 90's have seen one of the most speculative and buoyant housing markets of the world with house price inflation creating major problems of affordability for the middle classes. A sector of the middle class is seen as marginalized by the housing system. They have no access to public rental housing, few choices in private-renting and are unable to afford home ownership. Concomitant with this, the society also saw a significant sector within the middle class which made enormous capital gains through property transactions and home ownership, developing a life style closely associated with certain modern private housing estates. This thesis seeks to examine factors underlying this contrasting housing picture. Using the rational model as a point of departure, Part I of this thesis explains the limitations of rationality in coming to terms with the social genesis of home ownership. In particular, the constraints and possibilities of existing perspectives on home ownership are explored. As an additional dimension, the thesis suggests the adoption of a cultural perspective which emphasizes three important dimensions unique to the Hong Kong housing scene, that is, the history of housing and individual housing experiences, the Chinese family, and the contemporary middle class consumption culture. In addition, one of the key arguments introduced in this part is that a research methodology based on individual housing histories, one which seeks to unravel the deeply-embedded social relationships of housing, is more robust and fills an important gap in methodology and provides a more rounded discussion on the relationship between home ownership and social change. Part II of the thesis represents the empirical arm. In particular, evidence from case studies demonstrated that middle class home owners in Hong Kong generally suffer from extreme deprivation in housing in their upbringing, hence predisposing them to a keen search for housing improvements in later life. The emphasis of the Chinese family on family property and their strong attachment to mutual-aids has also created a system of intra-family banking to support home financing amongst family members. Absolute scarcity in housing as well as a burgeoning middle class home ownership culture has also enabled many middle class households to reap substantial capital gains throughout the 80's. However, evidence also suggested that such gains were highly fragmented, depending on the time of marketentry and the accessibility to housing finance. The conclusion of the thesis calls for a reexamination of the role of state amongst small, congested and high growth countries in promoting ownership and argues that extremities in geographical constraints could severely limit both the range of housing policy and the role of the state.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Housing provision & property