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What factors lead to civic engagement in low-income ethnic enclaves? Evidence from Seoul, South Korea

Authors: Jiyon Shin*, PhD Candidate, Seoul National University, Graduate School of Environmental Studies (GSES), In Kwon Park, Professor at Seoul National University GSES
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Asia, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Ethnic enclave, civic engagement, immigrants, place attachment, SEM
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual Track 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Globalization has been changing the demography of South Korea, a country with a long history as an ethnically homogenous population. The number of foreigners living in South Korea is continuously on the rise, now reaching nearly 4.6% of the population (5.182 million). Ethnic enclaves have been clustering in and around Seoul.

While ethnic enclaves can create new landscapes and promote vitality in a declining community, poorly managed, densely populated ethnic enclaves are becoming increasingly isolated from their surroundings, being stigmatized as dangerous places in the city. The government has been focusing on crime management policies for such ethnic enclaves. However, government-led policies alone are limited in driving the long-term development of the community due to limits in budget and manpower. Ultimately, positive changes should come from within for an area’s sustainable development. In this context, it is important to understand what causes residents to be voluntarily involved in local efforts to improve and develop the community.

Thus, this study aims to determine what factors and paths affect voluntary civic actions for improving local areas in low-income ethnic enclaves. For this research, surveys on 260 residents (natives and immigrants) of Daelim-dong were conducted and a structural equation model was employed to identify the causes of voluntary participation and contribution to the community. The results show that the degree of attachment and personal characteristics of residents affect civic engagement, but the impact differs between natives and immigrants. Based on the results, we derive policy implications for urban planning for low-income ethnic enclaves.

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