[Insight Into Korea 2]
Social Change in Korea represents the first collective attempt by a group of Korean sociologists to author a book on contemporary Korean society by putting together essays addressing a wide array of sociological themes.
The book collects a total of 30 essays, all published in The Korea Herald, an English-language newspaper based in Seoul, between October 2007 and January 2008. The paper invited the nation’s leading sociology professors to write on the deep and far-reaching changes that Korean society experienced since 1987, the year when the country’s “third wave of democratization” began.
The essays in the book, says co-editor Kim Kyong-dong, cover almost all the important spheres of social life, touching upon most of the significant aspects of social change in Korea over the years, especially during the past two decades. “They are not strictly scholarly articles. But every piece does approach the subject matter from a serious theoretical perspective and a sharp analytical eye,” says Kim, honorary professor of the Sociology Department of Seoul National University. “So, this can be a very useful complementary textbook for any course taught in English which deals with social change in Korea, as well as being a quick but comprehensive introduction for the more casual but curious reader.”
The central theme of the book, says Yu Kun-ha, managing editor of The Korea Herald, can be summed up by this question: Where is Korean society headed? During the past two decades, Korea has made significant progress in democratization, globalization and the transition to a post-industrial economy. Yet, despite all the advances, Korea still faces many tough challenges in its evolution toward a fully democratized and global country with mature welfare systems. Korea not only lacks key institutions which are essential to full-fledged liberal democracies, but it retains an affinity for traditional Confucian values. “This seems to be the assessment of Korea offered by many of the authors in this book. Consequently, they give us a mixed picture regarding Korea’s prospects,” says Yu. “The Korean professors’ less-than-sanguine perspectives on the future of Korean society appear to echo the observation shared by foreign experts on Korea ― namely, that Korean scholars tend to emphasize problems rather than achievements.”
The book consists of eight chapters. Part I offers two overview essays which introduce social change in Korea through a thematic approach. Part II deals with the demographic and ecological bases of social life, with essays on the population revolution, urbanization, rural communities and environmental pollution. Part III covers the cultural landscape in terms of changing values, ideological confusion, lifestyles, and multiculturalism. Part IV focuses on the changing patterns of social organization, highlighting such traditional principles of organization as collectivism, authoritarianism, and personal connections. Part V sheds light on recent changes regarding marriage, the family, and women in society. Part VI has eight essays on groups and institutions related to civic organizations, labor relations, political participation, education, religion, welfare, and crime. Part VII is devoted to the structural aspects of change, with respect to the occupational and class structures, social mobility, and poverty. Finally, Part VIII looks toward the future by raising the issue of national identity in the age of globalization.
Social Change in Korea is the second volume in a series of books that The Korea Herald plans to publish under the title of “Insight into Korea.” The book project is aimed at analyzing the transformation of Korean society since the June civilian uprising in 1987, a watershed in contemporary Korean history. The first volume was published in December 2007 while the third one, focused on political change in Korea, is scheduled to come out in the first half of 2008.
한국의 사회학계를 대표하는 교수 27명이 1987년 민주화 항쟁 이후 민주화, 세계화, IMF환란, 386세대의 정권 창출과 쇠퇴 등 20년간 격동의 한국사회의 변화를 입체적으로 분석하여 집필한 영문 책이 출판되었다.
‘Social Change in Korea’는 2007년 10월부터 올해 1월까지 영어신문 코리아헤럴드에 연재했던 기획시리즈 기사를 모아 엮은 것으로 보도 당시 예리한 시각과 심층적 분석으로 변화하는 한국사회 진단에 새로운 지평을 열었다는 평가와 함께 국내외 독자들로부터 뜨거운 관심을 받았었다.
김경동 서울대 사회학과 명예교수와 류근하 코리아헤럴드 편집국장이 공동 기획한 이 책은 주요 대학 사회학과 교수들이 공동으로 참여해서 한국사회의 변화를 다양한 각도에서 진단하고 영어로 집필한 유일한 책이다. 필진이 공통적으로 주목하는 주제이자 사유의 핵심은 “한국 사회는 어디로 향하고 있는가?”라는 물음으로 집약된다. 필자들은 한국사회가 민주화, 국제화, 산업화에 있어 괄목할 만한 발전을 이루었지만 앞으로의 전망은 반드시 낙관적이지만은 않다는 신중한 견해를 내놓고 있다. 외국 학자들이 우리 사회를 낙관적으로 보는 시각과는 조금 거리가 있다.
학술서 수준의 내용이지만 쉽고 흥미롭게 읽혀지는 에세이 형식으로 써진 이 책은 8장으로 구성되어 한국사회 변화의 특징, 도시화 및 환경오염, 가치관의 변화와 이데올로기적인 혼란, 다문화 사회, 전통적인 인맥형성과 사회조직의 원리, 가족 여성 결혼 제도의 변화, 시민단체의 역학, 구조적인 변화와 직업 계층 지위이동, 빈곤, 글로벌 시대의 국가 정체성 등을 다루고 있다.
코리아헤럴드가 1987년 이후의 한국사회 전반을 통찰한다는 취지로 기획한 연작물로서 ‘Insight into Korea’에 이어 두 번째로 발간한 이 책은 수려한 영어로 집필되어 한국을 이해하려는 외국인이나 영어강좌를 듣는 독자에게도 매우 유용한 안내서가 될 수 있다.
Social change in Korea: A bird's-eye view
The main driving forces behind social change
2. Demographic and Ecological Base
Two waves in Korea's population revolution
Seoul: A magnet for power, wealth, and population
Changing rural communities
Climate change tests Korea's adaptability
3. Cultural Landscape
Changing values cause ideological confusion
The semiotics of cars: We are what we drive
Korea moving toward a multicultural society
4. Principles of Social Organization
Collectivism vs. individualism
Korean society caught in post-authoritarianism trap
Personal ties still important, but patterns changing
5. Marriage, Family and Women in Society
Family values changing─but still conservative
Changing family and women in the ubiquitous age
More gender equality, but women still held back
Dual earners call for family-friendly society
Homophobia and the snail family in Korea
6. Groups, Organizations and Institutions
Nation witnesses upsurge of civil organizations
Transparency key to improving social cohesion
Labor market polarization damages social cohesion
Changing face of political participation in the era of democratization
The political economy of educational reform
Korean religions struggling to be born again
Koreans worry about insecure lives, uncertain futures
The causes of Korea's burgeoning crime rate
7. Social Stratification and Mobility
Women's labor participation grows─slowly
The odyssey of the middle class
Is Korea's social mobility fluid or locked?
Inequality persists despite economic success
8. Quo Vadis Korea?
National identity in the age of globalization