Beyond households: social production of female marital immigrants in South Korea

Authors: MinKyung Koh*, Ohio State University
Topics: Women, Social Geography
Keywords: female marital immigrants, social reproduction, households
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Napoleon A3, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines how female marital immigrants can be produced as a key subject of transnational social reproduction. In South Korea, women’s marriage migration via commercial agencies has been encouraged to solve sociobiological reproduction crisis driven by the country’s rapid economic growth. Between two families in sending and receiving countries, female marital immigrants are situated to be responsible for social reproduction. In natal families, women are expected to contribute to their households im/materially by providing labor and financial support. In marital families, female marital immigrants, assumed to be purchasable women from less developed countries, are asked to fulfill their gendered domestic duties as the nation’s wives/mothers. However, the actual practices of the women are not limited to their roles within households. Since most women’s marital families are relatively lower-class, their economic participation is also encouraged. Although female marital immigrants’ economic participation has been increasing, their works mainly remain around social reproduction. Drawing on my own recent fieldwork with female marital immigrants who are income earners, this research explores 1) how the women are engaged in economic activities beyond households; 2) why they enter certain types of labor, and 3) how they connect their reproductive work to two transnational families. By studying social reproductive and productive work of female marital immigrants, this research highlights that the subject of social reproduction can be produced beyond a household, and the place of households of female marital immigrants is a continuum between social reproduction and production, especially from natal to marital families.

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