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Transient Labor: Past and Present of Young Female White-collar Work Force in South Korea

  • 인문논총
  • 2017, 42(), pp.39-60
  • Publisher : Institute for Human studies, Kyungnam University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Published : February 28, 2017

홍예원 1 DUSTIN HELLBERG 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The paper aims to investigate transient labor pattern of young South Korean women by employing qualitative method, interwoven with the analysis of theoretical texts from Judith Butler and Cho Han Haejoang, and historiographic texts that show how female workers integrated into Korea's patriarchal labor market. Women's transient labor is analyzed though different historical figurations of 'working' women, who constantly 'do' gender, conforming to the State's nation-family trope. With 1988 Equal Employment Law, accompanied by Seoul Olympics, the changes seemed to appear, however, contemporary corporate culture continues to marginalize female workers through taboo and sanctions, which shaped the performativity of idealized working women. In turn, office girls reenact the traditional feminine ideal, or become 'flowers' in the offices. Some young Korean women enjoy relative freedom from being bread-winner and are allowed to pursue alternative career. Yet, the alleged female empowerment under recent regime of neoliberal self-portfolioization and so-called 'spec' accumulation only helps the reproduction of female subalternity, which leads to the question of female education and its unfulfilled promises.

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