Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:Neoliberal World
Author(s):Kim, Kyung Sook
Contributor(s):Lemus, Sergio; Grim-Feinberg, Kate
Subject(s):self development
ANTH499 S08
Korean woman's fashion
cultural commodity
social capital
Abstract:The starting point of this project is the observation of difference of Korean female students' fashion at UIUC. From that point, we dug further into the meaning of fashion in relation to one's identity across two countries and placed it within the broader context of global economy. Since more and more Korean students are forced to study abroad as self-development in competitive globalized society, the fashion also functions as a cultural capital to develop along with their educational capital. By comparing Korean trend with the American fashion, I found the common characteristics lied in these two styles. Korean women seem to be more fashionable than other ethnic groups. Unlike the Korean fashion trend that is more formal, the American style is more casual. But this does not mean that American students are less concerned with their looks nor they're free from social distinction via clothing. By adjusting their fashion to the locale, Korean students accept the racialized and commodified American concept and participate this social practice as a subject. Fashion is related to the personal choice of a certain consumption to express oneself. But it's not personal. It reflects all kinds of social category and distinction such as class, ethnicity, race and gender. fashion consumption at this global era is connected to a global mega corporations marketing strategy disseminated through mass media : TV drama, advertisements performed by famous entertainer, and Internet. In the current American cultural hegemony, nobody is free from the influence of american cutural commodities. Regardless of the physical, geographical difference of fashion in Korea and the US, and the tiring job of Korean women's self-development in their fashion also, they both reflect the neoliberal characteristics of cultural consumption.
Issue Date:2008
Course / Semester:Anth 499, East Asian Youth and Global Futures, Prof. Nancy Abelmann and Prof. Karen Kelsky: East Asian youth have experienced perhaps the world’s most compressed development as well as the world’s most aggressive globalization policies. This course examines how youth in East Asia (China/s, Japan, and the Koreas) are making their way in our globalizing world, focusing in particular on the transformations in work, education, recreation, gender, and sexuality brought about by neoliberal economic restructuring in the region. Topics studied include the insecure job market for young people, consumerism, globalized pop culture phenomena such as Pokemon, the Korean wave, and Internet gaming, emergent LGBT communities, etc. Students are encouraged to focus their research projects on aspects of the U. of I. student life that reflect the experiences of East Asian youth in a global market. The U of I offers a fascinating window on East Asian youth because of the many college (and pre-college) students who make their way here – as well as the movement of “Amercian” youth to East Asia. Through participation in the Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI), students will conduct local field research that reveals the global processes at issue. The course syllabus is available at:
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-06-05

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Globalization and the University
    This collection examines the influence of globalization on the university and the university's place in a burgeoning world market for higher education.
  • Student Learning
    This collection examines student learning both in and beyond the classroom.
  • The University and the Community
    This collection of student research interrogates the relationships between the university and the local community.
  • Student Communities and Culture
    The university offers an extraordinary opportunity to study and document student communities, life, and culture. This collection includes research on the activities, clubs, and durable social networks that comprise sometimes the greater portion of the university experience for students.

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