Town Talk: Enhancing the “Eyes and Ears” of the Colonial State in British Hong Kong, 1950s-1975
This article offers a longer perspective on the origins and effectiveness of reforms of colonial governance in Hong Kong. It shows that the colonial state shifted from increasingly ineffective indirect rule to using a covert bureaucratic opinion poll, Town Talk, to assess public opinion. The article argues that this bureaucratic device increased the organizational capacity of the colonial state and, in so doing, enabled a constructed form of ‘public opinion’ to influence policy formulation in a state-controlled manner without democratization. This mechanism was used as an imperfect substitute for representative democracy. These reforms enhanced a ‘non-political’ sense of citizenship among the Hong Kong Chinese but failed to bridge a communication gap between an unelected government and the people over whom it ruled.
1 Jan 2022 – 30 Nov 2022
Journal title, volume/issue number, page range
Historical Research, 95:268, 287-308
International Relations and Politics