A Confucian war over childcare? Practice and policy in childcare and their implications for understanding the Korean gender regime

Sook Yoen Won, Gillian Pascall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

We ask about the development of childcare policies in Korea and what these mean for our understanding of the gender assumptions of Korean governments. Women's labour market participation has been increasing rapidly, with married women now much more likely to be in the labour market. The provision and regulation around support for women's employment, and especially for mothers' employment, is a key issue and problem for Korean women and for governments. A number of policies give the impression that the Korean government is moving rapidly towards a policy for reconciling work and family based on a dual-earner model of the family. But we argue that a close inspection of these policies suggests that the state is still plying a residual role, legislation is not effectively implemented, and government is giving way to the private sector and to the family in responsibility for childcare. Mothers' accounts of their lives centre on a childcare war played out beneath the apparently harmonious Confucian surface, with resisting husbands supported by powerful mothers-in-law, and daily struggles over the management of services. The Korean government and its policy-makers, far from moving rapidly towards a dual-earner model of the family, are still rooted in Confucian ideals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-289
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2004

Keywords

  • Childcare
  • Confucianism
  • Gender
  • Korea

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