SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Law, Pui Fung (2022) Framing Democracy: The Competing Discourses of the Pro-Establishment and the Pro-Democracy Camps in Hong Kong 2003 – 2014. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only


This study examines the competing democracy discourses in Hong Kong (HK) from 2003-2014. Using primarily the ideas of Foucault (amongst others) on discourse, power, and institutions, it investigates the continuities and discontinuities of the competing democracy discourses in HK, in the context of its democratisation process/ reforms from 2003-2014. This study employs a corpus-based critical discourse analysis approach (as advocated by Baker, McEnery, Subtirelu etc.) that couples together quantitative (on a vast corpus constructed by the author, comprising of 234,295+ newspaper articles; and on the election platforms of all candidates in the LegCo elections1 ) and qualitative (elite interviews, focus group, document analysis, panel discussions, participant observations etc.) methods, with a broadly path-dependent (discourse-historical) leaning (beginning with the half-a-million strong protest on 1st July, 2003). It will be argued that the democracy discourses of both the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps have linked together a set of different values, discourses, social movements, and political power in specific ways at specific times: it was an evolutionary process, where the discourses experienced continuities and discontinuities that subsequently re-invented new political identities, re-negotiated the consensus between the civil and the political societies, and re-drew the remits of ‘Democracy’ (the order of discourse) in HK. Thus, in this study, democracy discourses are not only conceived of as just repertoires of ideas, activity types or policy positions, but they have also given the pro-democracy and pro-establishment camps the 'lenses' and the ‘rule books’ for which they use to make sense of the issues and the discursive spaces (opportunities) of the day. On a theoretical level, this study does not claim to have constructed any new general/ grand models on discourse analysis or democratisation. Instead, it applies and improves on the existing approaches- corpus-based critical discourse analysis (as advocated by Baker, McEnery, Subtirelu etc.) and agency-centric (transitologist) approach to democratisation (as advocated by Rustow, Karl etc.)- to analyse the competing democracy discourses in HK. By doing so, this study seeks to offer a new understanding that does not take for granted the conventional concepts in political analyses, and enables researchers to examine the dynamic interactions of discourses (democracy), power, social movements, and identities, in the context of HK’s ongoing democratisation process.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Dafydd Fell
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2022 14:30

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item