Social Indicators Research

, Volume 124, Issue 2, pp 383–400 | Cite as

Including the Views of the Public in a Survey of Poverty and Social Exclusion in Hong Kong: Findings from Focus Group Research

  • Maggie LauEmail author
  • David Gordon
  • Christina Pantazis
  • Eileen Sutton
  • Lea Lai


There has been growing research interest into poverty and social exclusion in Hong Kong over the past 30 years. However, the development of surveys in this field continues to be primarily ‘top-down’ or ‘expert-led’. ‘Bottom-up’ or ‘lay’ perspectives, utilising the views of ordinary members of the public, are rarely incorporated. This article discusses the use of consensual focus group methods to advance the theory and practice of poverty and social exclusion measurement in Hong Kong. By adapting the UK Poverty and Social Exclusion Study 2012 to the Hong Kong context, the article reports on public perceptions of the necessities of life and understanding of social exclusion. The study found a strong social consensus about what items and activities constitute an acceptable standard of living in Hong Kong. Furthermore, whilst social exclusion was an unfamiliar concept, participants were able identify and explain experiences such as discrimination (affecting new arrivals), geographical isolation, a culture of long-working hours and poor access to health services as key elements.


Poverty Social exclusion Focus groups Consensual methods 



This study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/Research Grants Council (RGC) Joint Research Scheme (RES-000-22-4400) and ESRC Grant (RES-060-25-0052).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maggie Lau
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Gordon
    • 2
  • Christina Pantazis
    • 2
  • Eileen Sutton
    • 3
  • Lea Lai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public PolicyCity University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong
  2. 2.School for Policy StudiesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in Nutrition, Diet & Lifestyle Level 3University Hospitals Bristol Education CentreBristolUK

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