The Impact of Gender Politics on the Socialisation of Care in South Korea

  • Sung Hee Lee

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The aim in this research is to investigate to what extent and with what effect gender politics have influenced the process of the socialisation of care in South Korea. To explore the political discourse around it and to assess the outcomes of the political efforts regarding the changing the nature of care, this researcher adopted a research design based on exploratory and explanatory phases. For the former, a quantitative investigation of secondary data was carried out in order to extract relevant statistical information. After having revealed in terms of the selected statistical indicators the nature of childcare provision prevailing before and after the reforms, the explanatory stage, undertaken through in-depth interviews and analysis of policy documents, was subsequently carried out in order to draw out the political and policy narratives behind the tentative findings that emerged from the exploratory phase. The outcomes of this study reveal that state-centred gender politics was faced with many structural limitations which were identified as being the various obstructions instigated by the private sector. Furthermore, the concept of the socialisation of care, ‘gonggongsung’, remained unformulated and rather vaguely defined throughout the reform process. In parallel to this, marketisation became ever more solid in Korean childcare provision whilst the state-centred gender politics morphed in nature and the direction of the initial policy intent, ‘gonggongsung’, was distorted. In conclusion, even after the application of policy initiatives, the marketisation of childcare has become much more firmly established and the reliance on informal care has remained as a significant part of childcare provision. There is also some indication that the burden of informal care has shifted to the older generation of women rather than being shared with mothers’ husbands/partners or society at large.
Date of Award6 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorTess Ridge (Supervisor) & Jane Millar (Supervisor)


  • Gender Politics
  • Socialisation of Care
  • Childcare
  • South Korea
  • Informal care
  • Informal carers
  • Marketisation of care
  • Childcare provision
  • Gender analysis
  • Feminist institutionalism
  • Privatisation of care
  • Care regime
  • Gender mainstreaming

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