Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Defiant institutionalization: Democratization and social movements in South Korea, 1984–2002
by Kim, Sun-Chul, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2008, 302; 3317651
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the interaction between democratization and social movements in post-transition South Korea. Using a wide range of data, I trace changing interactions among major political actors, including social movements, political parties and the government, in order to analyze the trajectory of contentious democratization in South Korea. I take the relations among varying social movement groups (degree of internal solidarity) and the relationship between social movements and institutionalized politics (degree of political autonomy) as the main foci of analysis. History of past contention and transnational influences are also discussed to provide insight into the broader context within which such relations materialized. In the course, I demonstrate how the South Korean social movement community could maintain strong influence and eventually settle as an independent political actor and institution that articulates, aggregates, and represents societal interests and programs, despite enduring instability in the political process. I use the term defiant institutionalization to describe the unconventional pattern of social movement institutionalization. The findings challenge mainstream theories that view either cooptation or marginalization of social movements as predicted outcomes of social movements in the context of democratization. The prevailing idea that unrestrained mobilization threatens democratic consolidation is also challenged. Instead, I show an alternative trajectory of contentious democratization, in which a highly mobilized social movement sector has filled in a void created by the instability and incapacity of institutionalized actors. Once we start perceiving social movements as an indispensable component of contemporary democracy, we are able to recognize the positive role they play in complementing democratic processes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tilly, Charles
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 69/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social structure
Keywords: Contentious politics, Democratization, Institutionalization, Korea, Social movements, South Korea
Publication Number: 3317651
ISBN: 978-0-549-65747-7
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