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

The Korean Experience of Social Normality and Dividing Practices

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2018, v.58 no.1, pp.96-120
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2018.58.1.96

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Abstract

Applying the arguments of Michel Foucault’s dividing practices, this study analyzesthe discourses that emerged during the discussion over the Busan Hyeongje Bokjiwon(Brothers Home) scandal, which occurred in 1987, to weaken the epistemic premisesof the principle of normalization, a primary ideology of social welfare knowledge. The principle of normalization is grounded in the notion that it is right to help thebeneficiaries of welfare services to access what is considered normal by the statisticalmajority of society. Yet, the theory fails to provide sufficient explanation for whatcultural normality is and who forms it. The results of this analysis show that theKorean experience of abnormalities had been formed not in a way towards reducingor eliminating the punishment of people defined as abnormal. Rather, such personswere exposed to claims that they should be observed through rational gazes and edifiedthrough labor ethics. Defining abnormality in Korea was another epistemological formof punishment. This is a compressed version of Foucault’s argument that punishmentfor abnormal people inevitably entails strict judgment, exclusion, and punishment. Theexperience still remains, under the principle of normalization, as a primarily practicalideology in clinical medicine and social welfare.

keywords
Hyeongje Bokjiwon Brothers Home vagrants principle of normalization Michel Foucault dividing practices work ethics

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