"South Koreans in the Debt Crisis" is a detailed examination of the logic underlying the neoliberal welfare state that South Korea created in response to the devastating Asian Debt Crisis (1997-2001). Jesook Song argues that while the government proclaimed that it would guarantee all South Koreans a minimum standard of living, it prioritized assisting those citizens perceived as embodying the neoliberal ideals of employability, flexibility, and self-sufficiency. Song demonstrates that the government was not alone in drawing distinctions between the "deserving" and the "undeserving" poor. Progressive intellectuals, activists, and organizations also participated in the neoliberal reform project. Song traces the circulation of neoliberal concepts throughout South Korean society, among government officials, the media, intellectuals, NGO members, and educated underemployed people working in public works programs. She analyzes the embrace of partnerships between NGOs and the government, the frequent invocation of a pervasive decline in family values, the resurrection of conservative gender norms and practices, and the promotion of entrepreneurship as the key to survival.
Drawing on her experience during the crisis as an employee in a public works program in Seoul, Song provides an ethnographic assessment of the efforts of the state and civilians to regulate social insecurity, instability, and inequality through assistance programs. She focuses specifically on efforts to help two populations deemed worthy of state subsidies: the "IMF homeless," people temporarily homeless but considered employable, and the "new intellectuals," young adults who had become professionally redundant during the crisis but had the high-tech skills necessary to lead a transformed post-crisis South Korea.
"South Koreans in the Debt Crisis is a very powerful analysis of the specific forms that neoliberalism has taken in a late-industrializing East Asian society, not just in the government's actions but in individuals' and activist-intellectuals' self-conceptions. There is very little that explores in such depth how neoliberal logics work in East Asian countries where well established liberal societies did not exist prior to neoliberal reform." Ann Anagnost, author of National Past-Times: Narrative, Representation, and Power in Modern China "This is the first book in English on a very important topic: how South Korea became a neoliberal state during the period when the 'IMF crisis' affected the whole society. Not only the government but also the mass media and progressive intellectuals were involved in the construction of the categories of 'deserving' and 'undeserving' welfare recipients. In this book, Jesook Song shows how neoliberalism as a governing technology works in everyday life."--Seung-kyung Kim, author of Class Struggle or Family Struggle? The Lives of Women Factory Workers in South Korea
|Introduction The Emergence of the Neoliberal Welfare State in South Korea||p. 1|
|The Seoul Train Station Square and the House of Freedom||p. 25|
|""Family Breakdown"" and Invisible Homeless Women||p. 49|
|Assumptions and Images of Homeless Women's Needs||p. 73|
|Youth as Neoliberal Subjects of Welfare and Labor||p. 95|
|The Dilemma of Progressive Intellectuals||p. 117|
|Coda The Pursuit of Well-Being||p. 135|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
Series: Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 1st September 2009
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 16.0 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.476