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Civic Activism in South Korea: The Intertwining of Democracy and Neoliberalism

Publisher: , expected Jul 2024
Link to online store *

In recent decades, neoliberalism has transformed South Korean society, going far beyond simply restructuring the economy. In response, a number of civic organizations that emerged from the democratization movement with a conscious emphasis on social change have sought to address socioeconomic and political problems caused or aggravated by the neoliberal transformation.

Examining how “citizens’ organizations” in South Korea negotiate with the market and neoliberal governance, Seungsook Moon offers new ways to understand the intricate relationship between democracy and neoliberalism as modes of ruling. She provides in-depth qualitative studies of three different types of organizations: a large national advocacy organization run by professional staff activists, two medium-size local branches of a national feminist organization run by mostly volunteer activists, and a small local organization run by volunteer activists with a focus on foreign migrants. Bringing together these rich empirical cases with deft theoretical analysis, Moon argues that neoliberalism and democracy are entwined in complex ways. Although neoliberalism undermines democratic practices of social equality by shrinking or destroying public resources, institutions, and space, it also can facilitate participatory practices that arise to fill needs left by privatization and deregulation as long as those practices do not seriously challenge the workings of capitalism. Showing how neoliberalism simultaneously enables and constrains civic activism, this book illuminates the contradictions of social engagement today, with global implications.

Seungsook Moon is professor of sociology at Vassar College. She is the author of Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea (2005) and a coeditor of and contributor to Over There: Living with the U.S. Military Empire from World War II to the Present (2010).

Source: publisher’s website


Introduction: Democracy and Neoliberalism Examined Through a Lens of Civic Activism

  1. The Development of “Citizens’ Organizations” in South Korea
  2. Profiles of Three Citizens’ Organizations
  3. Negotiating with the Market in Neoliberal South Korea
  4. Neoliberal Governance I: Collaborative Law and Policymaking and Undermining Grassroots Participation
  5. Neoliberal Governance II: Grassroots Participation Through Private-Public Partnership and Undermining Civic Autonomy
  6. Refusing Neoliberal Governance and Pursuing Prefigurative Activism

Conclusion: Reflecting on the Intertwining of Democracy and Neoliberalism

Entry on here.

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