In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Hong Kong

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Data Sources

Urban Studies Hong Kong
Maurice Yip
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 April 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 April 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780190922481-0055


Urban studies scholarship on Hong Kong fairly explains the urban transformations and transitions during and after the colonial period, analyzes the role of Hong Kong in the global network of cities, and interprets the present challenges and uncertainties faced by the city. Located in East Asia, Hong Kong, a former British colonial city, lies on the southern coastline of China. With a population of over seven million, as of 2020, and a relatively small land area of around a thousand square kilometers, Hong Kong is one of the densest cities in the world. Due to the stages of colonization, Hong Kong is composed of three regions: Hong Kong Island (ceded in the 1840s), Kowloon Peninsula (ceded in the 1860s), and the New Territories (leased in 1898 for 99 years). After the sovereignty transfer in 1997, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of China under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems,” an arrangement by which Hong Kong can maintain its own legal, administrative, and economic systems until 2047. Controversial policies and practices that promote regional integration, such as migration policies and cross-boundary infrastructure, have provoked political crises. Hong Kong is praised as a world city and is home to the super-rich; meanwhile, severe inequality and social injustice, as manifested in land, housing, and development challenges, together with political discontent, have triggered urban struggles. This selective bibliography firstly introduces the academic work on the urban context, then surveys the published works that delve into complex urban controversies. After introducing entry texts in General Overviews and reference materials in Journals and Data Sources for the students of urban studies, the bibliography proceeds in four thematic parts, namely Urban Law, Urban Politics, Urban Landscape, and Urban Processes and Controversies, each of which is divided into sections. It presents the works on law (Land System and Planning System) and politics (Urban Governance and Urban Geopolitics) of the city, which have their material manifestations in the urban space. These are the institutional foundations of the urban landscape, whose part consists of Urban Materialities and Mobilities, Housing, Restructuring the Urban Economy, and New Towns. Works on urban processes and controversies are finally presented, covering Financialization, Gentrification and Urban Redevelopment, Heritage Conservation, Contested Urban Citizenship, Injustice and Inequality, and Contentious Politics.

General Overviews

Those who want to obtain an accessible overview of present-day Hong Kong may find Lui, et al. 2019 a useful text, as it is a collection of up-to-date essays surveying key aspects of the post-1997 urban society of Hong Kong. It explains the contexts and situates the current urban issues in Hong Kong at the local, regional, and global scales. For an overview of urban history, Ho 2018, though relying heavily on official accounts and the government’s assistance, offers an empirically rich and informative narrative of the urban transformation of Hong Kong from 1841 until 2015, detailing the development of Hong Kong from the British colonial Victoria City into the global city under Chinese sovereignty. Dwyer 1971 particularly focuses on the urban problems after the Second World War in the mid-20th century, allowing readers to grasp some features of the colonial urban governance.

  • Dwyer, D. J., ed. Asian Urbanization: A Hong Kong Casebook. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1971.

    Although the city has transformed tremendously since the publication of this book in 1971, this collection still provides significant and detailed surveys of urban problems for those who are interested in what happened immediately after the Second World War. Framing within the context of the Third World, scholars and government officials wrote about Hong Kong’s physical planning; high-density, small industrial units; squatters and their resettlements; new towns; and transportation.

  • Ho, Pui-Yin. Making Hong Kong: A History of Its Urban Development. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2018.

    DOI: 10.4337/9781788117951

    Written by a historian, this book, a translation of the Chinese version published in 2015, offers a comprehensive narrative of urban transformation of Hong Kong between 1841 and 2015. Heavily drawing on official documents with the government’s assistance, this book summarizes the experience of urban development and the evolution of urban planning policies; also for this reason, this book, though very informative, somehow lacks alternative narratives and explanations of the city’s transformations.

  • Lui, Tai-Lok, Stephen Wing-kai Chiu, and Ray Yep, eds. Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Hong Kong. London and New York: Routledge, 2019.

    This up-to-date collection of essays from different academic disciplines surveys key aspects of post-1997 Hong Kong. Readers of urban studies would find this book useful, because it explains the legal and political frameworks of urban governance; introduces various urban issues, including social movements, migration, ethnic minorities, inequalities, and real estate hegemony; and places the past, present, and future of the city under the consideration of the regional and global scale.

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