Redefining the Life Choice of Filipino Marriage Migrant Women in South Korea


The growing number of incoming marriage migrants in South Korea has raised concern over the social inclusion of the population and the discourse of multiculturalism has then become a heated topic since the beginning of the 2000s. In this setting, the main concern of the study is to find out how the current social setting affects the choices of marriage migrants. The social setting encompasses not only ephemeral events such as discriminatory episodes or the arrival in a new country, but also social construction of ideas formed through social structures and migrant’s experience of the society as a whole. Numerous studies have been done in regard to the social structures including systemic discrimination and struggles of migrants. This study, however, intends to leave the bipolar relation between the structure and the agent. Instead, it looks into the embedded social experiences in choices which migrants make. In so doing, I analyse the narratives of two Filipino women who entered South Korea as a marriage migrant. The two women gradually formed different notions of improvement based on their experiences while possessing different social dispositions such as ethnicity, appearance, and language. At first glance, each choice they made in order to make improvement may appear to look irrelevant to their aspirations. However, understanding the conjuncture occurring between choices illuminates the logic and the relevance. The “conjuncture” is the condition that lays frame for social structures that are intertwined with social actions. People make choices based on their current condition, in which perceptions were influenced by perceived social experiences, and their future aspirations. It means, we undergo points of conjuncture in life, where past social experience, current social circumstance, and future prospect all interplay with one another while the outcome of the choice remains unknown. Therefore, in order to study the meaning of a better life of migrants and how the social environment constructs the meaning, it is necessary to look at conjuncture as a context of their life choices, instead of looking at linear relations of existing social structure and its effects on the quality of life.
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The gender norm: Breaking the gender romance

Breaking the gender romance: Critical view on gender norm and paradigm in development


And when he asked Ashanti male elders why he had been unaware of the important political role played by women, he was told: ‘The white man never asked us this; you have dealings with and recognize only the men; we supposed the European considered women of no account, and we know you do not recognize them as we have always done’ (Rattray, 1923, p. 84; cited by Peters, 1997, p. 135)

The above excerpt by an Ashanti male elder in Ghana gives an insight on how one’s own assumption about what is “normal” can influence others on how to interpret certain things. In this case, Europeans whose patriarchal system was embodied in their life experience may unconsciously have imposed men-centred views in their actions which the Ashanti elders thought as distinctive from their own actions. Later, Europeans brought the new norm with them after realising women should also be the part of the important political roles assuming Ashanti people, in this particular case, did not realise it yet. Not only does it show that people from patriarchal gender relations struggle to understand the matrilineal society, but it also points out the arrogant assumption that the society is more civilised when it considers “gender” seriously. Ironically, though, it was Europeans who changed the “gender” into men-centred society, in the case quoted above.
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