South Korea’s Democracy Movement

After nearly three decades of authoritarian rule South Korea transitioned to democracy as part of the global “third wave” of democratization in 1987.  In this project I explore the emergence of anti-government social movements in the context of heightened state repression in the 1970s.  To better understand the dialectical interplay between state repression and the democracy movement, I constructed a novel events dataset that quantifies various attributes of protest and repression events in the 1970s.  I also rely on various qualitative data sources to better understand South Korean social movements active in the 1970s.  The three archival sources I utilize are The Korea Democracy Foundation Sourcebooks, The National Council of Churches in Korea 1970s Democracy Movement Collection, and the UCLA Archival Collection on Democracy and Unification in Korea.  In addition to the archival materials I have conducted in-depth interviews with twenty individuals who were active in the 1970s democracy movement.  This project hopes to contribute to the empirical understanding of Korea’s democratization and our theoretical understanding of the repression-mobilization relationship.

Related Papers and Talks

Chang, Paul Y. 2015. Protest Dialectics: State Repression and South Korea’s Democracy Movement, 1970-1979. (Stanford University Press).

Chang, Paul Y. and Alex S. Vitale. 2013. “Repressive Coverage in an Authoritarian Context: Threat, Weakness, and Legitimacy in South Korea’s Democracy Movement.” Mobilization Vol. 18(1): 19-39.

Chang, Paul Y. 2008. “Unintended Consequences of Repression: Alliance Formation in South Korea’s Democracy Movement (1970-1979).” Social Forces Vol. 87(2): 651-677.

Chang, Paul Y. and Byung-Soo Kim. 2007. “Differential Impact of Repression on Social Movements: Christian Organizations and Liberation Theology in South Korea (1972-1979).” Sociological Inquiry Vol. 77(3): 326-355.

Chang, Paul Y. 2006. “Carrying the Torch in the Darkest Hours: the Socio-Political Origins of Minjung Protestant Movements.” Pp. 195-220 in Christianity in Korea, edited by Robert Buswell Jr. and Timothy S.Lee. University of Hawai’i Press.

Chang, Paul Y. "Suh Namdong and the Origins of Minjung Theology" (in progress).

The Structure of Protest Cycles: A Network Analysis of South Korea’s Democracy Movement

In his seminal study of contentious politics, Sidney Tarrow (1998) conceptualized social movements as constituting “waves of protest.”  The concept of protest waves and cycles has advanced our understanding of social movements by explicating the mechanisms of movement diffusion.  While much has been written on protest cycles, its empirical operationalization in the literature remains relatively crude compared to the rich theoretical discussion.  In this project, Kang-San Lee (Northwestern University) and I attempt to further develop the application of Tarrow’s concept by analyzing direct links between protest events, and between protest and repression events, with methods developed for network analysis.  By identifying the characteristics of protest events that contribute to short-term diffusion and long-term structural development of protest cycles, we hope to show the usefulness of network methods in analyzing protest events data while providing a better understanding of how public protests diffused in South Korea’s democracy movement.          

Related Papers and Talks

Chang, Paul Y. and Kang-San Lee. “The Structure of Protest Cycles: Contagion and Cohesion in South Korea’s Democracy Movement.” (in progress).

Chang, Paul Y. 2012. “The Structure of Protest Cycles: A Network Analysis of South Korea’s Democracy Movement.” (invited lecture, Behavioural Sciences Institute, Singapore Management University).

South Korean Civil Society

This collaborative project looks at the transformation of social movements in South Korea after democratic transition in 1987.  In our edited volume, South Korean Social Movements: From Democracy to Civil Society (Routledge), Gi-Wook Shin, myself, and several other contributors explore the institutionalization and diffusion of social movements in the democratic period.  Social movement groups and activists in general are facing a drastically different political environment compared to the authoritarian period.  This transformation of the larger political opportunity structure has led to the institutionalization of some social movements (e.g. government sponsorship and funding) which, in turn, has had important consequences for how they mobilize.  Also, the greater freedom that democracy entailed triggered the differentiation of the types of social movements active in contemporary South Korean civil society and this volume explores movements as diverse as the gay and lesbian human rights movement to the free media movement.    

Related Papers and Talks

Shin, Gi-Wook and Paul Y. Chang (editors). 2011. South Korean Social Movements: From Democracy to Civil Society. London and New York: Routledge.

Chang, Paul Y. and Gi-Wook Shin. 2011. “Democratization and the Evolution of Social Movements in Korea: Institutionalization and Diffusion.” Pp. 3-18 in South Korean Social Movements: From Democracy to Civil Society, edited by Gi-Wook Shin and Paul Y. Chang. London and New York: Routledge.

Shin, Gi-Wook, Paul Y. Chang, Jung-eun Lee and Sookyung Kim. 2011. “The Korean Democracy Movement: an Empirical Overview.” Pp. 21-40 in South Korean Social Movements: From Democracy to Civil Society, edited by Gi-Wook Shin and Paul Y. Chang. London and New York: Routledge.

Kim, Sookyung and Paul Y. Chang. 2011. “The Entry of Past Activists into the National Assembly and South Korea’s Participation in the Iraq War.” Pp. 117-134 in South Korean Social Movements: From Democracy to Civil Society, edited by Gi-Wook Shin and Paul Y. Chang. London and New York: Routledge.

Suh, Chan S., Paul Y. Chang, and Yisook Lim. 2012. “Spill-Up and Spill-Over of Trust: An Extended Test of Cultural and Institutional Theories of Trust in South Korea.” Sociological Forum Vol. 27(2): 505-527.

Korean National Assembly Project

This project is funded by the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) at Stanford University.  We have collected extensive data on South Korean National Assembly members (Korea’s legislative branch) starting from the 11th Assembly (start 1981) to the 17th Assembly (end 2008).  Starting in the late 1990s, past activists entered institutional politics in record numbers.  In this collaborative project Sookyung Kim, Gi-Wook Shin, and I explore the impact of past participation in social movements on legislators’ voting behavior.  Our empirical analysis of roll-call votes for the bill authorizing the deployment of South Korean troops to Iraq tests two competing arguments in the political science and social movements literature: 1. institutional pressures (e.g. party agenda) can limit individuals' abilitiy to vote freely and 2. participation in social movements can radicalize existing political ideologies and convictions.    

Related Papers and Talks

Kim, Sookyung, Paul Y. Chang and Gi-Wook Shin. “Past Activism, Party Pressure, and Ideology: Explaining the Vote to Deploy Korean Troops to Iraq.” Mobilization Vol. 18(3): 243-266.

Social Sciences Korea (SSK) Project: The Diffusion and Impact of Human Rights in Korea

In another collaborative project I explore the rise of the human rights discourse in South Korean civil society and how that discourse is applied in a variety of contemporary settings.  The first phase of the SSK project (2010-2012) involved four other investigators: Changrok Soh (PI; Korea University), Jeong-Woo Koo (Sungyungwan University), Patricia Goedde (Sunggyungwan University) and Francisco Ramirez (Stanford University).  With support from the Korea Research Foundation we have looked at the diffusion of human rights in Korea focusing on five exemplary fields: law and legal institutions, mass media, public opinion, education, and social movements.  In the second phase of the SSK project (2013-2016), we have moved beyond the question of how and why the human rights discourse has diffused to the question of whether diffusion leads to actual improvements in human rights practices.  For the second phase, our original team is joined by Kiyoteru Tsutsui (University of Michigan), Hun Joon Kim (Griffith University), Taehee Whang (Korea University), and Minzee Kim (Ewha Woman’s University).

Related Papers and Talks

Chang, Paul Y. 2012. “The Rise and Growth of Human Rights Movements in Korea.” SSK Human Rights Forum International Conference: The Global and National Diffusion of Human Rights, Seoul, South Korea. (conference presentation).

The Modern Korean Family

In this new project I explore the transformation of the Korean family in the modern period.  The goal of this project is to produce a book manuscript that begins with a historical overview of the Korean family structure before looking in-depth at topics related to the family in the post-liberation period (after 1945).  The different chapters will look specifically at: the entry rate of women into the workforce, the rapid rise in divorce, the consequences of divorce for children, the emergence of the "unwed" mothers movement, the rise in the suicide rate amongst the elderly, and the growth in numbers of inter-ethnic marriages.  These social trends are important as South Korea currently has one of the highest rates of divorce in the world, the highest rate of suicide amongst OECD countries, and has recently seen a prodigious influx of “foreign brides."  At the heart of these phenomena is the changing structure of the Korean family, from the traditional extended family model to the modern nuclear family and its variants.  I plan to utilize a mixed-methods strategy to assess the breadth and depth of the changing Korean family.     

Related Papers and Talks

Chang, Paul Y. and Andrea Kim Cavicchi. "Claiming Rights: Organizational and Discursive Strategies of the Adoptee and Unwed Mothers' Rights Movement" (in progress).

Kim, Harris H. and Paul Y. Chang. "Social Capital and the Diffusion of Suicidal Thoughts among Korean Adolescents" (in progress).

Chang, Paul Y. 2010 and 2012. “The Changing Korean Family: Gender, Divorce, Suicides, and Multiculturalism.” Lecture Series, Bahrom International Program, Seoul Women’s University, Seoul, South Korea. (invited lectures).