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The condensed social change and complex social order governing South Koreans’ life cannot be satisfactorily delineated by relying on West-derived social theories or culturalist arguments. Nor can various globally eye-catching traits of this society in industrial work, education, popular culture, and a host of other areas be analyzed without developing innovative conceptual tools and theoretical frameworks designed to tackle the South Korean uniqueness directly.

This book provides a fascinating account of South Korean society and its contemporary transformation. Focusing on the family as the most crucial micro foundation of South Korea’s economic, social, and political life, Chang demonstrates a shrewd insight into the ways in which family relations and family based interests  shape the structural and institutional changes ongoing in South Korea today. While the excessive educational pursuit, family-exploitative welfare, gender-biased industrialization, virtual demise of peasantry, and familial industrial governance in this society have been frequently discussed by local and international scholarship, the author innovatively explicates these remarkable trends from an integrative theoretical perspective of compressed modernity. The family-centered social order and everyday life in South Korea are analyzed as components and consequences of compressed modernity.

South Korea under Compressed Modernity is an essential read for anyone studying Contemporary Korea or the development of East Asian societies more generally.

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