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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

A Critical Argument against the Thesis of “Individualization without Individualism”: Focusing on a Comparison between Germany’s Sonderweg and South Korea’s Special Path to Modernization

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2017, v.57 no.2, pp.102-128
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2017.57.2.102

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Abstract

The Korean sociologist Chang Kyung-Sup coined the terms “compressed modernity” and “individualization without individualism” to describe the special path to modernisation in South Korea. The word “compressed” here denotes and emphasizes the contradictory coexistence of a collectivistic culture of familism and family formations that are simultaneously individualizing and varying. Because South Korean women have initiated the individualization of family forms, Chang and Song characterize them as “stranded individualizers under compressed modernity,” by which they mean that Korean women are culturally still collectivistic but at the same time appear individualistic in their (non-)marriage behaviour. This study argues against the theory of “compressed modernity” in Korea, according to which the individualization of families is nothing but a risk-averse variant of familism. Instead, this study argues that the real dynamic of individualization in Korea is found in the emergence of individualism and its vulnerability to institutions of familism. This study labels such a dynamic “compressed individualization.”

keywords
individualization without individualism methodological cosmopolitanism German Sonderweg compressed individualization (non-)marriage behavior Ulrich Beck

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