The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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Research Grants/Awards

Title of Project:
Struggle for Transformation: History of Three-Trade Unions and Social Evolution in Hong Kong (1840s - 1930s)

Total Fund Awarded:
HK$377,052

Principal Investigator:
Professor Ho Pui Yin, Department of History, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Funding Source:
RGC General Research Fund 2012/13

Abstract of Research:
        From 1841 onwards, Hong Kong experienced a long and sustained period of rapid transformation through technology adaptation, as well as ideological and internal readjustments. New ideas that transcended traditional values were created to build Hong Kong society in a new social and economic order. From a social-historical perspective, this proposed research will study three-trade (sam hong) unions between the 1840s and the 1930s. The objective is to understand the process of how traditional values had evolved from serving as moral purposes to being subordinated to the utilitarian goals of economic and political development of modern Hong Kong.

With close connections in China, three-trade workers were the earliest settlers who were capable of integrating modern technology, Western commercial laws and management mechanisms with traditional skills and knowledge in the construction of the city. They fought against the challenges of geographical obstacles, climatic limitations and problems of transport, water supply and housing caused by rapid population growth.