Ethnography of Chungking Manson: Ghetto at the Center of World

Published: 2021-07-30
985 words
4 pages
9 min to read
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Critical thinking
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Chungking Mansions is a unique tourist center with a seventeen-story marketplace and housing facilities in Hong Kong (Mathews, 2011, p.32). According to Gordon, most individuals refer to this district as a home for the arcade workers, Pakistani phone, Nepalese heroin fans, Chinese hotel workforces, the sex workers of Indonesia workers, as well as merchants and asylum hunters of Africa and Asia. The center is perhaps the most significant globalized center of the world (p.21). However, the underworld niche of Chungking Mansions faces the threats of extinction, since the structures are probably to be pulled down. Nevertheless, low-end urbanization and globalization factors are predicted to consume the open space, expanding from the underworld niche of Chungking Mansions into the full and free world (p. 218)

Research Questions

Gordon Mathews research aims to address two major questions. First, the research questions the roles of global big stakeholders like the international businesses besides experts in the interface between the inhabitants of Chungking Mansions. Second, the research questions how towns develop (the theory of globalization and urbanization). The two issues raise other sub-questions on stakeholder engagement and globalization which includes (Mathews, 2011, p. 21).

Globalization: What increases the level of illegal migration in Chungking Manson? What is the main contribution of poverty to ghetto life in Chungking Manson? What are the impacts of industrialization of south China to the Chungking mansion ghetto life?

Stakeholder engagement: why do we have little action from the local authorities against the illegal dealings within the ghetto? Why are the minority groups in the region discriminated and victimized by the majority under the watch of the administration who is the custodian of law and order?

Theoretical Approach

Mathews (2011) outlines the underlying themes through three original theories; globalization, traders, and law (p.36). He presents globalization theory in Chapter 1 (p.5). He gives a general overview of Chungking Mansions counting the development history of the area together with the outlook of the first residents as well as resource handlers. Also, the theory of globalization is emphasized through the development phases of Chungking Mansions, aided through the low-cost workforce.

Mathews presents the theory of traders in most of this book. He outlines them to comprise the merchants of sub-Saharan Africa as they search for clothes as well as electronic merchandises. The theory also includes excellent narrations from those who own shops, whose origin is Fujian or Shanghai jurisdictions from the 1980s back to 1970s. The traders enjoy the availability of cheap labor and short-term workforces (Mathews, 2011, p.74). Gordon presents the theory of law presents in the last Chapter. Specific consideration focuses on the asylum hunters since they continuously increase in number and the code usually trap most of them (p.169).

Research Methods

Mathews employed classical narratology ethnography as well as storytelling to collect relevant information. This approach entailed gathering the data from a personal perspective through interrelation and meeting people. The proposal was much relevant especially in efforts of picking the right information for the study. In this context, Gordon hangs out with different people along the building and its environment. He also discussed with traders, asylum seekers, and immigrants to gather necessary information. Recording and holding personal interviews were even ideal methods that Gordon used to collect relevant data for the study.

Authors Main Finding

Mathewss main finding to note is that the residences of Chungking Mansions live by individual volition. They cannot be characterized as business unionists or other types of advocates, and regardless of the possibility that they were politically dynamic back home, once in Hong Kong and Chungking Mansions, they need to play by the restricted arrangements of tenets formal and casual that represent life there (p.72). Also, Gordon establishes that there is an anxiety about the future of the town and its residents, given the weight from rising area esteem and the expanding sanitization of Hong Kong. Furthermore, Gordon noted that an entrance of people illegally without the intervention of local authority was a primary reason that facilitated the growth of chunking mansion (p.76). Besides, Gordon reveals that the contrivances of ownership of the building and stall made it impossible to demolish the old building to set a new one as advocated by much Chinese (p.21). He also found that illegal immigrants and asylum seeker have contributed to the poverty level in the ultimately caused unlawful trade and other criminal activities

Strengths and Weaknesses

The main strength of Gordons research is based on the fact that he engages in direct interaction with people which facilitates reliable and credible information. Direct involvement and deliberation with the respondents promoted the acquisition of first hand and reliable information. Besides, this form of data gathering eliminate bias, prejudice and minimize chances of making the substantial error that may significantly tilt and alter the findings and in inappropriate conclusion. One a significant weakness of Mathewss study was that he used whites people to assist him with the survey which apparently was considered as competitors and threat to the indigenous people. Having the wrong people to conduct the research posed limitation on the efforts of collecting the intended information. Failure to incorporate the right people for analysis created an erroneous impression which could precipitate the respondent to withdraw crucial information which could be necessary for the study. This constrained the collection of essential data for the study as they faced resistance and even threats from the homeland people.

If I were an ethnographer, I would not use people whose identity would be perceived to be a threat by dominance groups. On the contrary, I would hire individuals from majority groups to ensure I gather reliable information without fear of victimization by specific groups. The City life and this ethnography systematically intersect as most criminal activities such as trade are mostly found in the city where people share diversity cultures. Besides, most illegal and unlawful activity is mainly situated in the urban area.


Mathews, G. (2011). Ghetto at the center of the world: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong. University of Chicago Press.

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