Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Aseema Sinha

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2020 Gemma C Sykes


In 2019, Hong Kong erupted in mass protests demonstrating the city’s desire to be recognized as having a distinct peripheral identity with separate political expectations. What began as demonstrations against the proposed Extradition Bill quickly became a mass display of the differences between Hong Kong’s peripheral nationalism and the national Chinese identity. Since 2008, the subnational ‘Hongkonger’ identity has seen a dramatic rise in self-identification polls from only 18 percent in 2008 to 52.9 percent in 2019. Moreover, in 2019, 92.5 percent of 18 to 29 year olds in Hong Kong identified solely with the ‘Hongkonger’ identity. This thesis seeks to understand what has caused the rise of the ‘Hongkonger’ identity and how it has played a role in the emergence of Hong Kong’s 2019-2020 pro-democracy movement. In addition, it reviews existing social movement and identity theory literature to develop a revised version of Doug McAdam’s political process model. This revised political process model includes the consideration of identity within the cognitive liberation aspect of the theory. This thesis argues that including identity within the political process model provides a more comprehensive approach to understanding the emergence of social movements that derive from identity-based clashes. After understanding the factors that have caused the strengthening of the ‘Hongkonger’ identity, it applies the revised political process model to Hong Kong’s 2019-2020 protests to argue that subnational identity is the main factor behind the movement’s emergence.