Home > English > Resources > List of theses > List of theses published on Southeast Asia in 2017

Becoming a gendered citizen : Filipina marriage migrants’ political incorporation in South Korea


Author: Kim, Il Ju
Under the direction of: Zoua Vang
University McGill
English Language English text

Keywords : Sociology, Philippines, Gender, Migration, Marriage, Filipino women in South Korea, Political participation.


Read the thesis.


How does gender affect female marriage migrants’ participatory citizenship ? This study seeks to answer the question by analyzing the process of political incorporation of Filipina marriage migrants in South Korea. Combining insights from gendered citizenship and immigrant political incorporation scholarship, I argue that opportunities and resources that immigrants face for political participation in the host country are inherently gendered. I draw on in-depth interviews with 89 Filipinas, nine Korean spouses, and 39 individuals involved in immigrant-related organizations to explore the process of women’s political incorporation in South Korea —a country with a sizable and growing marriage migrant population. I supplement interviews with participant observations of Filipina marriage migrant’s interactions with their family members, co-ethnic group members, and community/ government organizations. Additional documentary materials from government statistical data, policy documents, and reports produced by NGOs are used to support primary data contextually. My empirical chapters examine patterns and processes of women’s citizenship acquisition, voting participation, voluntary associational activities, and national level representation. In the first empirical chapter, I examine how women acquire citizenship and vote. I find that both urban and rural women experience naturalization as a reward or incentive for accommodating and acquiescing to a set of gendered rules and scripts in the Korean family rather than as a basic right they are entitled to through civic learning and commitment. Yet, women’s voting decisions show two trajectories of continued conforming and independent decision-making, showing that women engage in contestation and renegotiation as the terms of bargaining change. In the second empirical chapter, I examine women’s voluntary associational life in urban and rural areas. In sum, voluntary associations in urban areas display more counterpublic characteristics, whereas those in rural areas show a rather cooperative orientation to the dominant public discourse toward female marriage migrants. In the final empirical chapter, I focus on how the presence of a Filipina marriage migrant legislator influences feelings of political inclusion among women in urban and rural areas. I find that while women in both areas acknowledge symbolic benefits of the descriptive representation, their sense of ’political responsiveness’ differs. I show the divergence stems from differential community collective norms about female marriage migrants’ political representation. The contributions of this dissertation are threefold. First, it offers at the empirical level a comparative analysis of female marriage migrants’ political incorporation under different local gendered context of reception in a new immigrant-destination, which has been rarely examined. Second, this dissertation contributes to the growing body of literature on female marriage migrants in Asia, extending current gendered citizenship approach to include dynamic participatory dimension. Third, this dissertation contributes to the immigrant political incorporation scholarship, which has given insufficient attention to gender.