Koreanistik

Vortragsreihe der Koreanistik


Michael Prentice (University of Sheffield)

Frontlines of Social Science Research on Korea

Supercorporate South Korea: Rethinking Hierarchy through Distinction.
Wednesday November 16, 2022, 18:00 c.t., Wilhelmstraße 133, Room 30

Abstract
Accounts of (and critiques) of negative hierarchy in South Korean society seem particularly prevalent today, reflecting various conflicts between generations, classes, or those with different mindsets. While hierarchy is often conceptualized as a negative residue from the past, this presentation argues that such thinking is unhelpful for social analysis. Rather, it might be better to think about tensions surrounding the attainment of distinction. The quest for distinction motivates educational trajectories, corporate jobsearching, real estate aspirations, and consumer tastes in South Korea’s thoroughly capitalist modernity. Based on ethnographic research from within a South Korean conglomerate, this presentation describes how corporations are as much modern organizers and arbiters of fair distinction as they are sites of old hierarchy. A thorough account of the modes of distinction, and their tensions in practice, can move beyond the trope of hierarchy that has long stuck to South Korea.

Bio
Mike Prentice is a lecturer (assistant professor) in Korean Studies in the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield. He has a PhD in linguistic anthropology from the University of Michigan. His research focuses broadly focuses on genres and technologies of communication in work and organizational life in contemporary South Korea. He is the author of Supercorporate: Distinction and Participation in Post-hierarchy South Korea.

Celeste Arrington (George Washington University)

Frontlines of Social Science Research on Korea

Legal Mobilization and Changing Governance: Disability Rights and Accessibility in South Korea.
Wednesday November 9, 2022, 18:00 c.t., Wilhelmstraße 133, Room 30

Abstract
Recent policies related to disabled people exemplify a more legalistic approach to governance in South Korea. In the past two decades, reforms have codified new rights, made rules more detailed and formal, added fines for rule-breaking, and proceduralized dispute resolution mechanisms. What accounts for this legalistic turn, which expands the role of law and courts in policy processes? Most explanations are top-down, emphasizing politicians’ strategies to cope with electoral turnover, judges’ activism, or the state’s treaty commitments. While not wrong, such explanations overlook the role of civil society actors. Through qualitative analysis of Korean movement records, policy deliberations, court cases, interviews, and news coverage related to accessible public transportation and anti-discrimination policy, I trace how activists and lawyers are contributing to the legalistic turn in governance by demanding and using more formalized regulations and participatory policy processes. In so doing, civil society actors are prying open the structure of legal opportunities. This research contributes to broader scholarship on varieties of legalism, policy diffusion, the judicialization of politics, and political participation.

Bio
Celeste Arrington (PhD, UC Berkeley) is Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University. Her research interests include law and social change, comparative policy processes, and transnational advocacy. Her first book was Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea (Cornell, 2016). She has published articles in Comparative Political Studies, Law & Society Review, Journal of East Asian Studies, Law & Policy, Asian Survey, and elsewhere. With Patricia Goedde, she co-edited Rights Claiming in South Korea (Cambridge, 2021). Her current book project analyzes the legalistic turn in Korean and Japanese governance through paired case studies related to tobacco control and disability rights. In 2022-23, she is on sabbatical at the Ludwig-MaximiliansUniversität München with a research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.