Family & Children (Chair: Sojung Lim)
Jaeyun Yim (U. of Texas, Austin) “Fertility Intentions of Korean Young Adults: Family Values and Their Impact”
This article examines various social determinants of Korean young adults’ fertility intentions, with a focus on family values. Using the sample (N=311) of Korean young adults aged 18-39 from the 2018 Korean General Social Survey (KGSS), it identifies several subtypes of family values among Korean young generation using LCA and explores their effects on fertility intentions using multinomial logistic regression analysis. Key findings follow. First, there are three distinct subtypes of family values among Korean young adults: Egalitarian (60%), Familist (30%), and Patriarchal (10%). Second, various socio-demographic factors, including sex, age, and educational attainment, were found to influence the likelihood of falling into each subtype of family values. Third, family values were associated with the fertility intentions of Korean young adults. Egalitarians had a relatively lower intention to have children compared to the supporters of the other two subtypes. The findings suggest that the structural contexts in South Korea may be restricting young egalitarians’ fertility planning.
Minjin Chae (Harvard U.) “Gender Essentialist Norms and Skeptical Attitudes toward Marriage among Korean Young Adults”
This study aims to examine the effect of gender-role attitudes on attitudes toward marriage. Among Korean young adults, egalitarianism has not emerged although traditionalism has declined. Instead, ambivalent gender norms of egalitarianism in the labor market and traditionalism in the family have developed. As a result, perpetually conflicting contexts of gender norms are fueling skeptical attitudes toward marriage. Using a latent class analysis, this study identifies three types of gender-role attitudes, which are designated as egalitarian, dual-role, and traditional. Individuals who hold dual-role gender views—the highest proportion of the three—expect women both to be primarily responsible for household labor and to share the role of wage labor. The results of binary logistic regression analysis show that not only women and men who hold egalitarian gender views but also women who hold dual-role gender views develop skeptical attitudes toward marriage. Difficulties in performing normatively prescribed roles in both the labor market and the family lead those women to form skepticism toward marriage. These findings imply that gender essentialist norms that assign distinct roles to men and women are not challenged in Korea; rather, they are modified, thus exacerbating skeptical attitudes toward marriage.
Sangsoo Lee (U. of Pennsylvania) “Trends in Couples’ Relative Education and Marital Success in South Korea”
Recent studies from the United States have found that female hypogamy (i.e., marriage in which wife has higher SES than husband) is no longer less stable than other types of marriages, unlike in the past. However, less is known about whether this would be generalizable in other countries with more traditional gender norms. Moreover, previous studies have failed to distinguish low-status homogamy from high-status homogamy in examining trends in marital dissolution. By analyzing the marriage and divorce registration data, this study investigates how the associations between couples’ relative education and marital stability have changed over the past two decades in South Korea to fill these gaps in our knowledge. Preliminary results show that female hypogamy was less stable than hypergamy in the past, but this is not the case among more recent marriage cohorts. The gap in divorce risk between high-status and low-status homogamy has been dramatically widening.
Giyeon Seo (U. of Florida) “Women’s Paid Work Hours and Ideal Number of Children: A Cross-National Study”
This study explores the global relationship between women’s economic work hours and the ideal number of children, and the societal-level variables affecting this relationship. Multilevel hypotheses were derived from the gender revolution framework (GRF) and the second demographic transition narrative (SDT). International social survey programme (ISSP) data from 2012 (N=21,957) was merged with country-level variables from various sources for the multi-level modeling analysis. Current research found that globally, the long work hours of women are associated with a lower ideal number of children in general. This negative relationship between work hours and the ideal number of children is the relationship is intensified in countries with a higher level of gender inequality index and alleviated in egalitarian countries. These findings support the GRF’s assertion that anticipation of work and family conflicts are generating an unmet demand for children in many modern societies.
Gender & Sexualities (Chair: Hyeyoung Woo)
Kiho Sung, Hyunjeong Kwak (Yonsei U), Ekaterina Baldina, Yae Jee Baek, Jun Yong Choi, & Yoosik Youm “Sexual Health, Behaviors, and Network of Korean Adults: Cross-Time and Cross-Country Comparison”
Background: This paper aims to describe sexual health and behaviors of contemporary Korean adults living in Seoul.
Data & Methods: An online survey was performed in 2021. The respondents who lived in Seoul and aged 19 or over were included in the sample. For study design, stratified sampling based on age group, gender, and residential areas were adopted.
Results: 2,182 individuals took part in the survey. 1,394 (63.89%) individuals reported that they had sex in the past 12 months, and mean number of sex partners was 1.48. 80% of the sample reported that they are attracted to opposite sex only. Huge sex difference in sexual behaviors were observed. While 70% of men reported they had sex in the past 12 months, only 57% of women did. Mean numbers of sex partners were 1.77 for men and 1.13 women, respectively. Men showed strong tendency to report themselves as heterosexual (96.73%) or being attracted to opposite sex only (90.01), while women reported low proportion (heterosexual 93.43%, attracted to opposite sex only 70.03%).
Conclusion: There exists huge difference of sexual behaviors between men and women, and the results will be significant to understand sexual behaviors of Korean adults based on a representative sample.
Hanee Choi (Rutgers U.) “Gendered Strategies and Challenges of Making a Farmers’ Market Movement: A Case Study on Marché Farmers’ Market in Seoul”
In this paper, I make a case study on Marché Farmers’ Market in Seoul to explore the specific strategies and challenges that emerge from a women-leading farmers’ market. Specifically, I examine three types of practical strategies which facilitated the realization of food sovereignty for female small-scale and peasant farmers. Starting from a small-scale attempt by leading activists, the majority of whom are women, their collective action to keep the autonomy of the movement has made success that connected more than ten thousand visitors to hundred small/peasant farmers. This attempt resulted in the gathering of female peasants and food activists into a space of the farmers’ market and led to specific feminist strategies and legalizing issues.
Jaeyeon Lee (Yonsei U.) “Women Walking a Fine Line: Laborer? Caregiver? or Both?”
The multidimensional features of gender-role ideology allude to the possibility of traditionalism and egalitarianism coexisting, as does new gender-role ideology that does not fit within the preexisting framework divided into traditionalism and egalitarianism. In an ambivalent and contradictory manner, “pro-work conservatives” uphold traditionalism by agreeing that “A man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to care for the home,” while also demonstrating egalitarianism toward labor by agreeing that “Both men and women should contribute to household income.” This study examines how pro-work conservatism shapes women’s employment experiences. I exploit the data from Korean Longitudinal Survey of Women and Families (KloWF) and include 2,148 women using Latent Profile Analysis (LPA). I find that pro-work conservatives are 62.4% more likely than the egalitarians to work part-time than full-time, and 86.7% more likely to work part-time in non-metropolitan areas. Decentralization of care work is underlined, as is the disintegration of gender-role ideologies.
Zhiyong Lin & Jaein Lee (Gettysburg College) “Changing Attitudes toward Homosexuality in South Korea, 1996-2017: A Gendered Life Course Perspective”
Using data from five waves of World Values Survey in South Korea, we explore gender differences in Korean adults’ attitudes toward homosexuality from 1996 to 2017. People become more conservative as they get older, and women are more accepting of homosexuality than men. However, this gender difference is conditioned on people’s life stages. Only among young adults (age 18-29), female respondents were more accepting of homosexuality than their male counterparts. For people aged 30 and older, there is no significant gender differences in attitudes, and for both women and men, homosexuality is mostly unacceptable during their mid- and late-adulthood (aged 50+). Further mediation investigation has shown gendered mechanisms behind age differences in homosexuality acceptability. Traditional family/gender attitudes provide significant explanations about age differences in homosexuality while for women, not for men, family status, especially the number of children, makes older women more conservative in homosexuality issues.
Aging & Life Course (Chair: Jaein Lee)
Eunha Hwang (Korea U.) “How Social Isolation Affects Suicidal Ideation among the Baby Boomer (the pre-Elderly) in South Korea: The Mediating Effect of Later Life Expectation”
It is necessary to analyze the Baby boomers as the pre-elderly considering the population aging issue in South Korea for these reasons; First, they occupy a significant proportion of the total population and have distinct characteristics from the current elderly. Second, some Korean baby boomers have already become over 65 years old, so the baby boomers become elderly wholly after just a few years. It means population aging could matter to our society more significantly. Previous studies have reported the factors of suicidal ideation but focus on individual factors or health. Some have examined the determinants of elderly suicidal ideation but tend to analyze those factors by age. This study examines the association between social isolation and Korean baby boomers’ suicidal ideation focusing on the mediating effect of later life expectations. Methodologically it analyzes the effect of social isolation on Suicidal Ideation among the Baby Boomer in South Korea and the mediating effects of later life expectations with the data from a Study of the Living Conditions and Welfare Needs of the New Middle Aged 2019 by conducting SEM.
Sung Eun Cho (Yonsei U.) “Leisure Infrastructure Gap and the Leisure Satisfaction among Urban Older Adults: The Moderating Effect of ICT Usage”
The purpose of this study is to examine whether the use of ICT can bridge the leisure satisfaction gap among urban older adults. The advancement of urbanization has expanded the disparity in leisure infrastructure inside cities, especially between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. Using the 2020 National Survey of Older Koreans data, I investigated 6,708 respondents who are over 65 years old and live in urban areas. The analysis results are as follows; first, distance to leisure facilities, which represents the leisure infrastructure gap, was negatively related to older adults’ leisure satisfaction. Second, using ICT devices for entertainment narrowed the negative association between the leisure infrastructure gap and leisure satisfaction. The moderating effect was greater in non-metropolitan areas than in metropolitan areas. This implies that in parallel to overcoming the inherent infrastructural gap, encouraging ICT usage could be an effective strategy for narrowing the leisure satisfaction gap among urban older adults.
Hyeyoung Woo (Portland State U.) & Yujin Kim “The Meaning and Process of Cohabitation in South Korea”
Over the recent decades, the rise of cohabitation as a form of union has been dramatic in most industrial countries, where marriage has been declining at the same time. Yet, Korea is an exception: the social sanction of cohabitation is high; and yet, marriage is rapidly declining despite its strong cultural emphasis. In attempting to understand the meanings, contexts, and processes of cohabitation, and to explore how they might have changed over time, we have conducted in-depth interviews of 34 women who are in 20s to 60s with cohabiting experience at some point, currently residing in Seoul or its metropolitan area in Korea. While preliminary, our data indicate several circumstantial characteristics for how cohabiting has occurred. Our data also reveal persistent notions around the ‘cohabitation’ as well as variations in the cohabitation experience across age groups. We discuss the implications of our findings and future directions for families in Korea.
Network, Politics, and Consumption (Chair: Jung In)
Heejo Lee (Korea U.) “Emergence of Opposition to Political Correctness in the Younger Koreans”
This paper aimed to identify the factors underlying the emergence of opposition to political correctness (PC) among younger South Koreans. PC opponents generally note that PC encourages intolerance and reverse discrimination, and this paper finds out whether certain factors are associated with anti-political correctness. A web survey was conducted among individuals in their 20s to identify certain value-related and identity-related background factors of anti-political correctness. The survey results revealed that: (1) Ideological conservatism, that is, a strong belief in conservative values, was positively correlated with anti-political correctness. (2) Belief in freedom of expression was not positively correlated with anti-political correctness. (3) The value of meritocracy was positively correlated with anti-political correctness, but only among those who were familiar with the concept of PC. (4) No indirect impact of having a strong sense of identification with a mainstream group on anti-political correctness was verified through the mediation of symbolic threat.
Jae Won Kim (Ewha Womans U.) “Consumer’s Ethical Consumption Consciousness and Related Factors”
As ethical consumption emerged as a new cultural trend in recent years, there is a strong need for empirical studies dealing with ethical consumption behavior. Therefore, this study explores critical factors that significantly influence ethical consumption consciousness among sociodemographic variables, political variables, and psychosocial variables. A multiple regression analysis with two models is performed, based on the 2020 Korea Social Integration Survey.The results are as follows: first, among sociodemographic variables, gender, marital status, and age were statistically significant; second, political activity engagement and social organization engagement also significantly influenced ethical consumption consciousness. Third, altruism, tolerance, self-rated health, and perceived behavior control were found to have a positive effect on ethical consumption consciousness. Furthermore, this study examined the interaction effects between age and altruism and revealed that older consumers with altruistic nature are likely to be more conscious of ethical consumption.
Eunjae Kim & Eun Kyong Shin (Korea U.) “Double-edged Network Effects on Disclosing Traumatic Experiences among Korean “Comfort Women””
This study examines the effects of social networks on the disclosure of stigmatizing and traumatic sexual assault experiences. We analyzed publicly archived oral histories of Korean “comfort women” from WWII, employing an innovative method combining word embedding analysis, word frequency comparison, and ground theory. By extracting their significant social relationships from narrated survivor stories, we parsed two distinctive disclosure patterns according to timing of disclosure: early disclosures and late disclosures. The latter were more socially embedded than the former, indicating the constraining aspect of social networks, in which the size of social networks was positively associated with delayed disclosure. Qualitative findings further elaborated that the fear of transgenerational transmission of social scorn and stigma was a hindrance. The findings contribute to enhancing a culturally relevant understanding of trauma disclosure and the repercussions of human trafficking.
Inchan Hwang (Yonsei U.) “Poverty Trajectories during Adolescence and College Entrance”
This study examines distinct trajectories of exposure to poverty and provides estimates of their effect on college entrance. The analysis incorporates three key insights from the life course: (1) the temporal dimensions of exposure to poverty, that is, timing, duration, stability, and sequencing, are confounded with one another; (2) age-varying exposure to poverty not only affects but also is affected by, other factors that vary with age; and (3) the effect of poverty trajectories is heterogeneous across gender groups. Results from the Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey 2010 show that exposure to poverty lower respondents’ odds of college entrance. Persistent and intermittent exposures to poverty reduce the odds of four-year university entrance by 60 percent, 76 percent, respectively, compared to no exposure to poverty. The impacts of persistent poverty are more pronounced for men than women, and the effects of intermittent poverty are more significant for women than men.
Grazia Milano (L’Orientale U. of Naples) “Possible Gender-based Different Behavior Trends among South Korean Young People Concerning Family: The Influence of Discourses on Gender Conflict on the Aging of the South Korean Population”
This study examines the influence of gender conflict on the aging South Korean population. It is unclear whether different gender-based behaviors regarding marriage and family can be observed within South Korean young people and whether such potential differences may be related to a gender-based problematization of the gender conflict. The present study addresses these questions through a mixed-method research project. 104 semi-structured interviews and 461 surveys have been collected between March 2021 and March 2022. While women participants tended to reject marriage and childbirth more than men participants in data collected in 2021, such a trend slightly differed in data collected in 2022 amid presidential elections. Analysis suggests that when young Koreans perceive gender issues as risks to their safety, more voluntary rejection of marriage and family occurs. In this sense, political discourses and media’s portrayal of men-women contrasts appear influential in the aging of the South Korean population.
Minsu Yoo (The New School for Social Research) “Performing Bodies in Medical Experiences: Mechanisms and Clinical Cases of Drama Therapy”
Looking at the cultural affinity between the idiom of femininity and the disciplinary technique of the body, this paper explores the discontinuity of selves as part of women’s pathology. It analyzes gestures, actions, and speech forms enacted through therapeutic practices by relying on a qualitative engagement with psychotherapeutics in South Korea’s post-capitalist context. The paper’s research field and empirical lens are represented by Drama Therapy. The paper argues that many of the materials in theater, such as the use of text, performance, and ritual, are represented in Drama Therapy and that, because of this, this setting acts as an important field for the understanding of embodiment, projection, and distancing in healing rites. The study highlights how patients’ bodies are enacted as multiple objects, producing hidden transcripts that convey the performative aspects of social norms.
Da Eun Son (Korea U.) “Analysis of Problems in Transition for Employment to Seoul of Region Youth”
The present paper investigates the difficulties of youth people who came to Seoul to get a job in planning their future life stages as its analytic center life-course theory. Employment is an important life transition event that occurs in the life process. In South Korea, the polarization between metropolitan areas and regional areas is becoming intense. Employment issue is no exception. Employment opportunities are far greater in Seoul, and high-wage jobs are also concentrated in Seoul. This situation emerged as a consequence of the youth who grew up in regional areas and graduated from university to move to Seoul in order to find a job. The government has implemented various support policies to solve the problems of youth employment and housing stability, but they are of no practical use to youth who come to Seoul to find employment. As a result of the research, youth who moved to Seoul from regional areas experienced many difficulties in terms of housing and felt a sense of relative deprivation when they moved to Seoul. Also, they have problems delaying the transition of the next life course step.
Jungmin Shin (University at Albany) “The Boundary Making of Korean MNCs and the Role of Ethnicity”
This study aims to examine the structure of Korean multinational corporations (MNC) and investigate the boundary-making of the employees. In-depth interviews with the employees of the subsidiary uncover that it is the ethnicity of the employees that serve as the boundary setting tool. By focusing on the context of a Korean MNC subsidiary based in Vietnam, this study unfolds the mechanism, in which the ethnicity of the employees serves as an unwritten qualification and a hurdle to set the boundaries between the parent country nationals (PCN) and host country nationals (HCN). In the setting of temporary migration of parent country nationals, the ethnicity boundary of the local subsidiary is still solid. These ethnic boundaries that exist along the organizational structure contradict the cost-reduction strategy that Korean MNCs allegedly pursue.
Rachel Lee (Columbia U.), Younghee Cho, Sou Hyun Jang, & Eunjung Kim. “Exploring Korean Immigrant Parenting Practices and Perceptions by Primary Language: A Mixed-Method Study”
This study explored Korean immigrant parents’ positive parenting practices, children’s problem behaviors, and parenting self-efficacy by parents’ primary language. This study was a part of a needs assessment for developing a community-designed parenting program in Korean-American communities. Twenty-two Korean immigrant parents of children ages 0-5 were recruited from three Korean language schools in the Greater Seattle area. Thirteen (59.1%) participants were Korean-speaking, and nine (40.9%) were English-speaking parents. Participants were asked to complete a survey and participate in a focus group. Independent t-tests were used to analyze the survey responses, and inductive content analysis was used to analyze focus group interviews. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed significant differences in parenting practices and perceptions based on parents’ primary language. The findings of this study highlight the need for parenting interventions tailored to the specific needs of subgroups of parents based on their primary language and degree of acculturation.
Stratification & Inequality (Chair: ChangHwan Kim)
Soo-yong Byun (The Pennsylvania State U.), Joeun Kim, & Anna Kim. “Trends in the Gender Gap in Students’ Occupational Expectations in South Korea: 2000-2018”
Using data from the Programme for the International Student Assessment (PISA), this study examined how the gender gap in 15-year-old students’ occupational expectations had changed from 2000 to 2018 in South Korea. Results showed a declining trend in the gender gap in students’ expected occupational status over the past two decades. Specifically, in 2000, male students’ expected occupational status (measured by the International Socio-Economic Index of Occupational Status) was .27 standard deviation higher than that of female students. This gender gap favoring male students remained significant in 2006, but its size substantially reduced to .14 standard deviations. It further reduced in 2015 and 2018 to the point that there was no statistically significant gender difference in students’ expected occupational status. Regression estimates with and without controls (e.g., family socioeconomic status, academic achievement, grade, and urbanity) confirmed the declining gender gap in students’ expected occupational status in South Korea.
Sejin Um (New York U.) “Gendered Anticipations of Parenthood and Work Pathways among Korean Young Adults”
Using 126 interviews with young adults who share a starting point of full-time employment in large domestic firms in Korea, this study examines how anticipated parenthood differentially shapes women’s and men’s work pathways. On the one hand, women who expect to combine work and family sought to mitigate the penalty of motherhood on careers by moving to “mother-friendly” organizations, choosing professional occupations, or staying temporarily to utilize the benefits provided to working mothers. Men, on the other hand, did not see fatherhood as constraining their careers, and instead expected it would strengthen their dependency on their current employers. A small number of women and men who did not expect to have children designed their work lives free from parenthood concerns, which in turn depended on how they relate to paid work. Whether pursuing paid work for its extrinsic or intrinsic value, their work pathways were closely tied to the freedom achieved by avoiding parenthood responsibilities, which they, too, understood as gendered.
Seungyeon Jung (Yonsei U.) & Seongsoo Choi “Stratified Second Chances: Who Choose a Double Major?”
As young people’s entry into the labor market is delayed, options for preparation for employment have increased. Because it is evident that some majors have a significant impact on the labor market, a major choice is an crucial in that it determines their status in the labor market. Contrary to an original major, which is decided upon before students enroll in college, the double-major system is an optional choice that enables students to react more quickly to changes in the job market. However, studies on double majors are still limited. This study shows the following association between college students’ position and their decision to double majors, which are estimated as SES, college status, and an original major. According to the research, students decide whether to acquire additional status based on the three positions measured by universities, family SES, and an original major. Additionally, it demonstrates gender influences how they make decisions for a major choice. It indicates that even at the same level of education, there is a stratified phenomenon in the selection process.
Eugene Hwang (Yonsei U.) & Dohoon Lee “The Role of Positive Parenting on Grit – Does SES Differentials Matter?”
Grit is recognized as an important non-cognitive skill that is expected to have a positive effect on academic and labor marketability. Contrary to Duckworth’s claim that grit has a class-free property, studies suggest that grit and SES are closely related to each other. Meanwhile, previous research suggests that non-cognitive skill is greatly influenced by parents’ parenting attitudes during early childhood, and is varied by family SES. Therefore, to explore the relationship between grit and social class, it is necessary to find out the influence of parents’ parenting attitudes according to SES. This study aims to show how parenting and grit differ according to SES by focusing on the inequality occurring within the family. By using the data from Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey 2018, this study seeks to determine whether the relationship between positive parenting and grit differs by parental SES, by conducting OLS regression and sibling fixed-effect analysis.
Migration & Immigration (Chair: Jonathan Jarvis)
ChangHwan Kim (U. of Kansas) & Andrew Taeho Kim “Hyper-selectivity or Culture? An Assessment based on the Regional Variation in Asian American Children’s School Enrollment”
Asian immigrants’ children tend to acquire higher levels of education than other ethnoracial groups, including White natives. The hyper-selectivity hypothesis challenges conventional wisdom by arguing that Asian American culture is an outcome of a structural factor associated with hyper-selectivity. In this study, we assess the validity of the hyper-selectivity theory by examining the association between the magnitude of hyper-selectivity measured by the proportion of the BA+ degree holders among the 1st generation Asian immigrants across communities and the likelihood of school enrollment for 1.5 and 2nd+ generation Asian American children. Our results cast doubt on the hyper-selectivity theory. Asian American children’s school enrollment is not associated with the magnitude of educational selectivity among Asian immigrants. The benefits of hyper-selectivity do not seem to be cross-class. The higher the hyper-selectivity in a community is, the larger the education gap between upper- and lower-background Asian American children. Korean Americans are not an exception.
Hee Eun Kwon (U. of California, San Diego) “Cosmopolitan Performance: Korean Expatriate Families in the United Arab Emirates”
When states paradoxically implement policies of segregation and political projects of tolerance, how do temporary migrants feel a sense of belonging? Building on 32 months of immersive and extended ethnography in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, I examine temporary migrants’ sense of belonging through a framework of “performance of cosmopolitanism.” This illustrates how temporary migrants adopt and perform governmental claims of cosmopolitanism to build their homes in the legal, social, and temporal sense in Dubai. As a chapter of a broader monograph, this talk will focus on the performance of Korean expatriate families who, despite the privileges associated with their class and upward mobility as a result of migration, face unique burdens due to their racial identities. Amidst the social tensions and segregation, the performance allows these families to engage with other residents – both the nationals and non-nationals alike – in a spirit of civility until the suppressed facts make an appearance.
Minjeong Kim (San Diego State U.) “Social and Geographical Stratifications within Transborder Ethnic Community – the Case of U.S. – Mexico Korean Immigrants”
Based on the ethnographic research on the development of Korean immigrant communities in the U.S.-Mexico border region, the paper analyzes the factors that shape social stratification and explains how social and geographical stratifications overlap within the transborder ethnic community.