Korean Wild Geese Families: Global Education and Transnationalizing as a Family Strategy for Class Mobility

By Keumjae Park.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the case of Korean Wild Geese Families, a popularized form of transnational family among Korean middle-class, which is driven by educational motivations. In Wild Geese Families, the mother and the children migrate to countries where they can learn a major international language while the father, who typically holds high-earning jobs in Korea, remains home to support their overseas’ stays. Korean Wild Geese Families differ from the more common transnational family forms caused by migration of parents to another country to increase family’s income; instead, they require significant reduction of family’s financial resources for unseen benefits in the future. In this study, I analyze qualitative data obtained from fourteen Wild Geese parents in order to explore the structural causes behind this family strategy. Wild Geese parents’ decisions reflect growing competition in the labor market and the education system as well as the perceived values of cultural capital in the era of global society. The spread of Wild Geese Families among Korean middle-class indicates that changes are occurring within family dynamics and that the family’s function as the support system for children’s upward class mobility is becoming increasingly crucial. The linkage between geographical mobility, education, and class mobility is discussed in the paper.

Keywords: Transnational Family, Global Education, Transnationalism, Migration, Korean Family

Global Studies Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.67-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 253.070KB).

Dr. Keumjae Park

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey, USA

Keumjae Park received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Rutgers University. Her areas of interest include migration and transnationalism, globalization, sociology of identity, social theories, and feminist theories. She is the author of a book on Korean immigrant women (2008) and has published and presented numerous papers on various topics including Korean immigrant women, transnational identities, and Asian immigration to South Korea. Her current research project examines South Korea’s social and cultural changes as a new immigrant-receiving country. She maintains active interests in the study of various forms of social inequality affecting women and minorities.


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