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Power, place and state society relations in Korea

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Jongwoo Han
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Despite high expectations for how new networked information technologies (NNITs) could influence democratic outcomes, few studies have provided clear evidence that NNITs have changed political discourse or election outcomes. With this in mind, this paper examines how young, politically indifferent, Korean NNIT users involved themselves in mainstream Korean political discourse and became the linchpin in the election of President Roh Moo-hyun in 2002. In the information age, demonstration effects from NNIT-induced mobilizations can bring about dramatic changes in electoral politics. The Korean experience in 2002 suggests that while turnout declined among all generational groups in general, NNITs can play a decisive role in shaping the political cohesiveness and voting patterns of younger generational groups in electoral politics.
Authoritarianism in East Asia's capitalist developmental state (CDS) is highly gendered. A hybrid product of Western masculinist capitalism and Confucian parental governance, CDS authoritarianism takes on a hypermasculinized developmentalism that assumes all the rights and privileges of classical Confucian patriarchy for the state while assigning to society the characteristics of classical Confucian womanhood: diligence, discipline, and deference. Society subsequently bears the burden of economic development without equal access to political representation or voice. Women in the CDS now face three tiers of patriarchal authority and exploitation: family, state, and economy. Nevertheless, new opportunities for democratization may arise even in the hypermasculinized state. We suggest: (1) emphasizing substantive, not just procedural, democratization, (2) exercising a maternalized discourse of dissent, and (3) applying hybrid strategies of social mobilization across states, societies, cultures, and movements. South Korea during the 1960s–1970s serves as our case study.