In Pursuit of Status: The Making of South Korea's

In Pursuit of Status: The Making of South Korea's "New" Urban Middle Class

by Denise Potrzeba Lett

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Overview

In this ethnography of the everyday life of contemporary Korea, Denise Lett argues that South Korea's contemporary urban middle class not only exhibits upper-class characteristics but also that this reflects a culturally inherited disposition of Koreans to seek high status. Lett shows that Koreans have adapted traditional ways of asserting high status to modern life, and analyzes strategies for claiming high status in terms of occupation, family, lifestyle, education, and marriage.

The Harvard-Hallym Series on Korean Studies, published by the Harvard Council on East Asian Studies, is supported by the Korean Institute of Harvard and Hallym University in Korea. The series is committed to the publication of outstanding new scholarly work on Korea, regardless of discipline, in both the humanities and the social sciences.

Editorial Reviews

Japan Times

Denise Lett's study of South Korea's urban middle class...highlights the powerful role culture has played in South Korea's emergence as a global economic power. Lett's core argument is that South Koreans possess an 'underlying drive' to attain social status, and that this has been a 'force behind the development of South Korea's human resources in general, of its new middle class in particular, and ultimately of South Korea itself'...She backs her argument by analyzing South Korea's urban middle class in the areas of occupation, family, lifestyle, education, and marriage, and comparing her findings with practices in the yangban era.
— James Adam

American Ethnologist

In Pursuit of Status is an important contribution to the ethnography of Korea and anthropological studies of social stratification. It is perhaps the best introduction to contemporary Korea’s social stratification and urban life that has been published in English.

Japan Times - James Adam

Denise Lett’s study of South Korea’s urban middle class…highlights the powerful role culture has played in South Korea’s emergence as a global economic power. Lett’s core argument is that South Koreans possess an ‘underlying drive’ to attain social status, and that this has been a ‘force behind the development of South Korea’s human resources in general, of its new middle class in particular, and ultimately of South Korea itself’ …She backs her argument by analyzing South Korea’s urban middle class in the areas of occupation, family, lifestyle, education, and marriage, and comparing her findings with practices in the yangban era.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674007819
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/30/2002
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #4
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 270
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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