Congratulations to Yang-Sook Kim for award-winning article

October 15, 2019 by Sherri Klassen

Congratulations to doctoral candidate, Yang-Sook Kim, who recently received an award from the Association of Korean Sociologists in America for her article, "Care Work and Ethnic Boundary Marking in South Korea" that was published in Critical Sociology in April of 2018. The award is given annually to honour "an outstanding graduate student paper on a topic of Korea or Koreans/Korean Diaspora (all broadly defined)."

Yang-Sook's paper examines ethnicity among migrant and non-migrant care-workers in South Korea. It connects to her dissertation project which studies these workers more broadly. The dissertation is entitled, The Politics of Care: A Comparative Study of Co-ethnic and Local Women Workers in the Domestic and Long-term Care Market of South Korea and is supervised by Professor Cynthia Cranford, Hae Yeon Choo and Jennifer Chun.

Citation and Abstract

Kim, Y.-S. (2018). Care Work and Ethnic Boundary Marking in South Korea. Critical Sociology, 44(7–8), 1045–1059.

This article examines how state eldercare provision influences care workers’ subjectivities and claims for dignity and self-worth. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork conducted in South Korea, I argue that migrant and native-born care workers construct different ideals around what is “good” versus “bad” care through the marking of ethnic and professional boundaries. South Korean women employed as state-certified care workers emphasize the expertise and skill they provide as professional caregivers, and as such, demand expanded rights and protections from the state. In contrast, Korean-Chinese migrant women, who share a similar ethnic background but migrated from China to South Korea, emphasize their value as fictive-kin who can provide wholehearted care as informal workers. These divergent strategies not only result in the use of ethnicity to mark clear boundaries between the care work provided by each group, but they also (re)produce ethnically-segmented, two-tiered labour markets institutionalized by eldercare policies.