South Korean transnational mothers: Familism, cultural criticism and education project

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




John Burdick


South Korean transnationalism, Transnational family, Long-distance relationship, Migration for education, Educational exodus, Korean familism

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology


My research focused on South Korean middle class families' transmigration for education, known as a "goose family." In regard to the neo-liberal educational environment of uncertainty in S. Korea, transnational educational exodus for enhancing educational human capital has resulted in the emerging multination split family pattern. This study examined reconstruction/ deconstruction process of patriarchical familism caused by transnational spatial dispersion, and a new idea of a transnational "home" by capability of the elastic possession of multiple identities. Second, I investigated long-distance family relationships mediated through ICT communication skills with concepts like co-presence and mutual surveillance, information filtering process and mothers' accumulating of social capital. Third, through transnational vectors, legal status/social class, I have examined cultural criticism in family-centered and marital relation-based ethnic church cultures and mothers' religious citizenship and spirituality. Also I crystallized how legal status affects children's educational setting, strategies, and changes of subjectivities.

Broadly, I explore the politics of nation-state boundaries, legal status, transmigrants' everyday life settings, ethnic-religious realm, social capital, and the dynamic of Korean familism. This research projected integrational explanation of scales, that is, neo-liberal global economy, a third nation's neoliberal educational reform, transmigration and dynamic change of Korean familism. I also tried to connect the nation-state's border politics and transmigrants' everyday lives.


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