Class Struggle or Family Struggle?: The Lives of Women Factory Workers in South Korea

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This study complements the burgeoning literature on South Korean economic development by considering it from the perspective of young female factory workers in the Masan Free Export Zone, the group whose cheap labor underwrote the initial phases of Korea's economic growth and that continues to be the most poorly paid segment of the Korean labor force. In approaching development from this position, Professor Kim explores the opportunity and exploitation that industrial development has presented to female workers and humanizes the notion of the "Korean economic miracle" by examining its impact on their lives. The author analyzes how female workers envision their place in society, how they cope with economic and social marginalization in their daily lives, and how they develop strategies for a better future. In exploring these questions, the book considers the heterogeneity of female workers and the complexities of their experiences as women and as workers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Going beyond abstract economic indicators and anecdotes, Kim...offers a rich, sensitive ethnography based on participant-observation as a factory worker in the late 1980's..." Charles Armstrong, ILWCH

" and very original observation on the uneasy and quite complex relationship between college educated activists and women workers." Journal of Asian Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521114653
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/25/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
Preface: Field, Subject, Author
Language Note
1 Women Caught between Global Capitalism and South Korean Patriarchy 1
2 The Process of Production in the Masan Free Export Zone 19
3 The Myth of Social Mobility: Its Creation and Reproduction among Women Workers 57
4 Labor Militancy and Collective Action 97
5 The Making of Working-Class Identity: Students' Theories and Workers' Lives 129
6 Conclusion 170
References 185
Index 197
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