Social Construction of Migrant Women: Focusing on Status of Sojourn and Civic Stratification

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Changhye AHN, Chung-Ang University, South Korea
This paper aims to explore the ways in which Korean ‘migration laws’ have classified its foreign populations through civic stratification which in turn have constructed gendered and racialized social groups in regard to three different types of migrant women: marriage migrant women, Korean Chinese women workers, and Filipino women ‘singers’ working at tourist clubs. With such objectives, it analyzes the laws affecting the classification of foreign populations since 1993 from which large scale target populations were taken into account as a means to resolve domestic issues. How have the laws changed? What rights and qualifications were deployed to classify migrant women into different categories? What are their ideological implications and social effects?

While all three groups are expected to fill the void of the gendered roles in order to support Korea’s current social system, each group’s construction is differentiated through stratified qualifications and civic rights, according to the intersecting axes of gender, nationality, and age as well as their ‘purpose’ in Korean society: gendered ‘menial’ service jobs and care work, reproduction of the nation, and/or sexual exploitation.

I recognize the law as a key factor by which target populations are defined, categorized, and situated. The law not only reflects the already existing social construction of target populations, but also creates, changes, and reinforces such construction. It is through aggressive intervention of the state in the form of civic stratification that a specific population is regulated and managed into a particular social group. This analysis on the laws affecting migrant women and their differential statuses of sojourn will be able to disclose the Korean-specific construction of migrant women as a racialized gender as well as the migrant ‘other’, while exposing Korea’s gendered anxiety as a nation-state and a fairly new host country.