Communities, Families, and Work Throughout Life Courses -2

While workers’ demonstrations expressed moral, or by extension political, positions, the mutability of resistance movements explains the inconstancy of political constituency. As Judith Howard asserts, moral commitments could not operate as incentives for activism if “individual values, emotions and identities” were not critical components of people’s decisions to join movements. Nonetheless, in most (more…)

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Communities, Families, and Work Throughout Life Courses -1

Nineteenth-century socialists envisaged that the alienation of modernity would bind people together for revolution. Recent feminist and postcolonial critiques, however, indicate that the rationales for resistance and revolution are not based solely on socioeconomic class. Recognizing that colonial conditions cannot be explained by capitalist logic alone while adhering to unilateral interpretations of domination, (more…)

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The Agencies of Factory Women -2

Everyday life, however, was not just reliant on immediate events but on gradual historical developments. From the late 1910s to the mid-ig^os, a generation of Koreans confronted the trials of early industrialization fol¬lowing the First World War, agricultural reform, economic recession, and the Great Depression. No preceding event, however, transformed the lives of ordinary people to the extent of the Second World War. Still, the ever increasing demand for human resources brought on by the Pacific War allowed others to rise to positions of skill. (more…)

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The Agencies of Factory Women -1

If eighteenth-century philosophical traditions inflated individual ability, twentieth-century theories deflated personal agency vis-a-vis the power of surrounding social structures. Much of this scholarship reveals fundamental flaws in liberal premises, but simultaneously discourages attempts to under-stand people’s tendencies to conceive of individual influence.16 Because in-dividuals and social structures (more…)

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The Legacies of Colonial Working Women -8

While the activities of men in heavy industries are better known, protests by working women were just as pronounced. Between 1929 and 1934, more than one hundred large-scale demonstrations surfaced in female labor- intensive enterprises such as silk-reeling, cotton spinning and weaving, and rubber shoemaking factories. Because filatures generally hired fewer employees than cotton spinning and weavin (more…)

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The Legacies of Colonial Working Women -7

The injustices of Japanese wage scales and labor policies have been perceived as the motivators of strikes, but such interpretations gloss over the specialized ways in which protests arose. Colonial capitalism established cer-tain wage standards, such as the well-known fact that Koreans received half the wages of the Japanese, and women, half the pay of men. The system of inequality supported by Japanese rule (more…)

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The Legacies of Colonial Working Women -6

But their identifications with their labors were not permanent. Just as former factory women empathized with the rigors of industrial production, they appreciated the difficulties of motherhood and domestic labor they encountered later in life. Thus, the political consciousness of working women evolved through the myriad of tasks accomplished in everyday life. The collective groups that workers identified with were (more…)

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The Legacies of Colonial Working Women -5

With the agricultural commercialization and industrial development co-inciding with colonization, much of the peasant population left the countryside and moved to urban areas for work. Although some families migrated as a unit, unmarried young women were among the first to enter urbanized factory labor independently. Throughout the twentieth century, textile labor was seen as an extension of domestic service, but (more…)

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The Legacies of Colonial Working Women -4

After a period of relative quiescence, Chon’s dramatic death presaged a labor movement unparalleled since the 1930s. Not only did it ignite a resur¬gence of union and strike activities, it also led to the founding of an array of civil organizations that sought to implement the social reforms ignored for decades because of war and accelerated development. In the fifteen or so years following Chon’s death, hundreds of labor, (more…)

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The Legacies of Colonial Working Women -3

In the decades following reconstruction, Korean women again entered the mills, making silk and cotton cloth, processed foods, rubber shoes, and machinery. Employing between two and three thousand workers, most of these factories resembled colonial enterprises in terms of their scale and strained labor management relations. Thus, following another phase of rapid development and repressive labor control, women (more…)

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