Resistant Consumerism: The Politics of Consumption in South Korea during the Park Chung Hee Period (1961–1979)
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Lee, Anna Jungeun
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CitationLee, Anna Jungeun. 2021. Resistant Consumerism: The Politics of Consumption in South Korea during the Park Chung Hee Period (1961–1979). Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractMy dissertation examines the emergence of a consumer society in South Korea under the gradually authoritarian Park Chung Hee government (1961–1979). By closely examining women’s magazines, government sources, newspaper articles, and oral interviews, I identify a cluster of influence formed by the first generation of “consumerists” —advertisers, businesspeople, magazine editors, and black-market merchants, among others—who promoted popular capitalism, forming an independent vector to the government’s nationalist visions of development. Consumerists deterred and resisted the government’s production-oriented goals for fast economic growth. They promoted unconventional ways to negotiate with and resist the government’s disciplinary economic measures and cultural campaigns against consumption.
The study of consumerism and consumerists captures a certain type of social potential and cultural energy of the Park Chung Hee period, distinguishable from how scholars have conventionally viewed it. While previous studies focused on the government as one of the main supporters and enactors of economic development, my dissertation instead emphasizes the state’s discouragement of vernacular forms of capitalism represented by consumption. By doing so, I highlight the multiplicity of capitalist visions and the strength and versatility of consumerists. The South Korean case opens up new questions about the nature of consumerism, with consumerists successfully shaping identities, visions, and landscapes against state-constructed obstacles.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368336
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