Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Globally Agreed upon, Locally Troubled: The Construction of Anti-Violence Legislation, Human Rights Discourse, and Domestic Violence in South Korea
by Heo, Min Sook, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2008, 292; 10630993
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the ways in which the problem of violence against women has been constructed as a public and social problem in South Korea. Violence against women is a common problem that women share around the globe; at the transnational level, the “women's human rights” framework has been widely accepted and celebrated by human rights activists as the best way to combat violence against women. However, the experience of activists at the local level suggests they confront serious, contextual obstacles to this framework, forcing them to develop a more culturally relevant framing.

Dissertation research was based on multiple methods, including document research, in-depth and semi-structured interviews with key actors, participant observation, frame analysis and institutional ethnography. The dissertation analyzes several key issues. First, the reasons behind and ways in which Korean feminist activists constructed a framework emphasizing “preservation of the family” as a tool to elicit public and political support is the major focus of the dissertation. Second, how, why and with whom they formed strategic coalitions is examined extensively. And third, the dissertation analyzes debates and disagreements among local feminists over strategic decisions such as framing of issues, coalition building, divisions among feminists, and the goal of prioritizing laws to eliminate violence against women. Because of the globalization of human rights language to combat violence against women, the dissertation explores the dilemmas that locally situated feminists confronted in their political and social contexts.

Findings include the following. Although women's human rights and legislative change were agreed upon as the best approaches to socially construct the notion of gender violence and to challenge patriarchal discourse and practices about domestic violence, locally situated women activists may feel forced to rely on a more culturally resonant framing to gain attention and support. This can happen even when they prefer a human rights framework. Therefore, the dissertation suggests that feminist debates surrounding the usefulness of human rights language or that equate such language with imperialist Western feminist practices need to be productively reconstructed. One useful way to achieve this is to focus on the situational reality of cultural entrapment that local feminist anti-violence activists may confront in different cultural contexts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rakowski, Cathy A.
Commitee: Burack, Cynthia, Bystydzienski, Jill, Keating, Christine
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Women's Studies
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian Studies, Law, Womens studies
Keywords: Cultural entrapment, Framing politics, Violence against women, Women's human rights
Publication Number: 10630993
ISBN: 978-0-355-01304-7
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