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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