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Title:The internet and the public in South Korea: online political talk and culture
Author(s):Kim, Jeong-Ho
Director of Research:Nerone, John C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nerone, John C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Christians, Clifford G.; Abelmann, Nancy A.; Pickering, Andrew
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Social aspects of Internet
Online social networks
Online discussion
Political culture
the public
the public sphere
South Korea
Abstract:This dissertation is an ethnographic study of online political talk and its culture in South Korea. In this study, I examine the action and culture of online-talk participants from the insider’s perspective. My main argument is that online political talk has given rise to the subjectivity that characterizes a new type of the public, which I name the simin public. I use simin as the term to refer to a South Korean conception of citizenship. In demonstrating the rise of a subjectivity of the simin public, I first identify and characterize a central practice of online-talk participants: a social role that I term citizen polemicism. This role refers to a set of actions of judging public matters, offering such judgments in public, and arguing with fellow citizens. Then, I investigate what moves quite a few citizens to engage in citizen polemicism and why the voice of the citizen polemicist is considered to be a legitimate public voice. In answering the former question, I argue that citizen polemicists are morally motivated public communicators. In inquiring into the latter question, I claim that the legitimacy of the citizen polemicist’s voice depends on the voice’s embededness in open, critical, and common sense-oriented discussion. Lastly, I identify a main culture—which I call the culture of thininking together in public—that frames online political talk in general, which centers on the interactions between the citizen polemicist and its audience but is not reduced to them. In this culture, online-talk participants are willing to think together about public matters in a public place and in a critical manner. The thinking-together-in-public culture leads online-talk participants to form shared understandings and judgments about public matters and further to produce collective political discourses. This dissertation explores two additional research issues: how the Internet has contributed to the rise of the simin public and how individual citizens are transformed into members of the simin public. In examining the former issue, I argue that the Internet not only provides ordinary citizens with new opportunities for and new abilities of political communication, but also shapes and nurtures specific types of communicative actions, new desires and interests with regard to political communication, and online-talk participants’ understandings of their communicative actions and themselves. In investigating the latter issue, I emphasize the importance of political imagination—exemplified by the role of simin in the rise of the simin public—which builds upon an association between the social and communication technology.
Issue Date:2013-02-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Jeong-ho Kim
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-02-03
Date Deposited:2012-12

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