In-Group and Out-Group Networks, Informal Social Activities, and Electoral Participation Among Immigrants in South Korea

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With increasing global migration, immigrant incorporation and assimilation have become a growing concern. Prior research has mostly focused on economic adaptation of immigrants in North American and European context. This study shifts the focus to political incorporation of foreign-born spouses and other naturalized citizens living in South Korea, a topic that has received very little attention. Its primary goal is to examine the relationship between bridging and bonding social capital, measured in terms of interpersonal networks and informal social activities, and formal political participation, i.e., voting. Data come from the National Survey of Multicultural Families (2012), the largest and most up-to-date government-funded research project on Korea’s burgeoning immigrant population. Using multilevel analysis, this study shows that ties to inter-ethnic contacts (native Koreans) and greater involvement in informal social life are associated with higher odds of voting among immigrants. Greater embeddedness in in-group or co-ethnic networks, on the other hand, is associated with lower odds of voting participation. Moreover, net of individual-level network and background factors, living in a community with a higher level of social activities, is related to greater electoral participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-1148
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of International Migration and Integration
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This research was supported by the Ministry of Education of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015S1A3A2046566).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


  • Ethnic social capital
  • Immigrant networks
  • Political participation
  • Precarious assimilation
  • Social activities


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