Researchers reveal what connects youth of Glasgow and Hong Kong

Youngsters in Glasgow’s East End “hang out” together online rather than outdoors. In contrast, in Hong Kong, where outdoor space is at a greater premium, young people are increasingly congregating on the streets.

Glasgow youngsters spend more time hanging out online rather than outdoors. Picture: John Devlin

These are among the findings of a collaborative research project by University of Glasgow researchers Dr Susan Batchelor and Dr Alistair Fraser, who compared the lives of 16-25 year-olds living in the Dennistoun area of Glasgow’s East End with those living in the Yat Tung estate near Hong Kong’s international airport.

An exhibition (running November 7-14) at The Bridge, Westerhouse Road, Glasgow, will illustrate some of the common features of life for young people in Glasgow and Hong Kong as well as some areas in which their experiences diverge.

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The event, which is part of the annual Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science, will also feature a similar study from more than 50 years ago.

The original research conducted by Pearl Jephcott in the 1960s was in response to popular concerns of the time relating to “unattached” youth who spent their free time hanging around the streets and local cafes, going to the cinema or “the dancing”.

In 1971, after publishing a groundbreaking study of youth leisure in Scotland, she travelled to Hong Kong on behalf of UNICEF. She documented clear differences in the meanings of work and leisure between these two contexts, some of which remain today. While Glasgow’s youngsters were mooning around in the latest fashions, listening to pop music, growing their hair long and getting into fights, Hong Kong teenagers were working.

The new study shows that today’s youngsters in both cities are increasingly turning to digital and social media connections to “hang out” virtually with their friends.