Ph.D. Candidate Anson Au discusses Hong Kong’s economy and the recent protests in the South China Morning

Ph.D. Candidate Anson Au recently wrote an Opinion piece for South China Morning, entitled, “Why Hong Kong’s economy is more than capable of weathering the recent protest headwinds.” South China Morning is a Hong Kong English-language newspaper founded in 1903. In the article, Au uses economic data and data from his research with Professor Sida Liu to show that although the protests are harmful to civil society, the extent of economic damage that has been inflicted is an exaggeration.

Anson Au is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department at the University of Toronto. He is also currently a visiting professor in the School of Humanities, Social Science, and Law at Harbin Institute of Technology.

We have posted an excerpt of the article below. The full article can be read here. 

The protests that have gripped Hong Kong for over seven months have been credited with taking a heavy toll on the economy. The impact on the tourism sectorhas received particular attention – in October, for example, the number of visitors from the mainland dropped 46.9 per cent compared to the previous month. These stark figures are compounded by anecdotal accounts of students, academics, businesses and professionalsconsidering leaving Hong Kong. Hong Kong entered a technical recession in October, with government officials and other commentators warning – some with resignation, others with delight – of darker economic times to come.

Although the damage the protests have done to the fabric of our civil society is clear, the extent of the economic damage has been exaggerated. Hong Kong’s economy is far more resilient than we have assumed and will certainly rebound in the long term. Data from the December 2019 report on the Hong Kong economy by the Census and Statistics Department and my own research with Professor Sida Liu at the University of Toronto on Chinese and foreign law firm collaborations in the Hong Kong legal sector paint a brighter picture…

Read the rest of the article here.

Congratulations to Anson Au for their honourable mention for the Best Paper Award in the “Sociological Quarterly”

Congratulations to Anson Au for the honourable mention he received for the Best Paper Award in the Sociological Quarterly. His paper, entitled, “Reconceptualizing Social Movements and Power: Towards a Social Ecological Approach”, is a study that attempts to move the study of social movements towards a new social ecological approach.

Anson Au is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. His research interests include sociological methodology, culture, politics and theory.

We have provided a citation as well as the abstract below. The full text is available here. 

Anson Au (2017) Reconceptualizing Social Movements and Power: Towards a Social Ecological Approach, The Sociological Quarterly, 58:3, 519-545, DOI: 10.1080/00380253.2017.1331714

Existing social movement theories subsume protests into abstract conceptualizations of society, and current ethnographic studies of protests overburden description. Through a case study of London protests, this article transcends these limitations by articulating a social ecological approach consisting of critical ethnography and autoethnography that unearth the organizational strategies and symbolic representations exchanged among police, protesters, and third-party observers, while mapping the physical and symbolic characteristics of space bearing on these interactions. This approach points to a conceptualization of power at work as transient, typological structures: (a) rooted in collective agency; (b) both mediating and mediated by symbolic representations; (c) whose sensibilities are determined by symbolic interpretations; and (d) thrown into binary opposition between protester power and police power, who mutually represent meanings to resist and be resisted by.

PhD Student Anson Au receives Mitacs Globalink Research Award for study in South Korea

Thanks to a MITACS Globalink Research Award, Anson Au has been spending the summer of 2018 in South Korea conducting research into attitudes towards plastic surgery. Designed to encourage international collaboration, the MITACS Globalink Research Award provides funding for students in Canada to conduct 12–24-week research projects at universities overseas. Anson used his award to travel to Korea to work under the supervision of Professor Yoosik Youm at Yonsei University.

The resources at Mitacs Globalink allowed Anson to conduct novel research on plastic surgery in South Korea, a publicly significant, but broadly understudied, phenomenon in one of the most advanced countries in East Asia. Plastic surgery has grown extensively around the globe, particularly in South Korea, where more surgeries occur per capita than any other country in the world. At the same time, modern plastic surgery practices have expanded their reach to include more ways of modifying body parts and colonizing new parts hitherto immutable. Anson’s research seeks to understand the cultural and institutional forces that dictate standards of good taste in designing and deciding on plastic surgery modifications; how the interpretive relations between the body, appearance, and persona within the positionality of the self are altered by growing trends in plastic surgery; how plastic surgery renders individuals commensurable, if at all; and how have other domains of social life been altered by the growing popularity, reach, and commonness of plastic surgery.

Anson used funds from the Mitacs award to travel to Korea and conduct interviews with practitioners and consumers to learn about the ways in which they understand plastic surgery.