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KakaoTalk and Facebook

Korean American Youth Constructing Hybrid Identities


Jiwoo Park and Dafna Lemish

KakaoTalk and Facebook: Korean American Youth Constructing Hybrid Identities explores the role smartphones play in the lives of Korean American youth as they explore their identities and navigate between fitting into their host society and their Korean heritage. Employing multiple methodologies, this book gives voice to the youth’s personal experiences, identity struggles, and creative digital media practices. While similar in many aspects to other American youth, they also differ greatly in the central roles that their smartphones’ use plays in maintaining their mastery of the Korean language, connecting to Korean pop culture, and cultivating their social networks with other co-ethnic peers and homeland relatives and friends. The results of this study challenge traditional assumptions about assimilation of second generation immigrants into a host society and suggest that digital technologies facilitate the process of segmented assimilation, according to which ethnic identities continue to play a central role in the identity of children of immigrants. KakaoTalk and Facebook will be of great interest to scholars and educators of media and youth and those exploring how digital media have changed the nature of immigration processes in dramatic ways.

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Chapter 1. Immigration and Identity Formation


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Immigration and Assimilation in the U.S.

Over the last few decades, new waves of immigration from all over the world have profoundly changed demographic realities in the U.S. and raised questions about assimilation into its culture. United States Census Bureau (2015) documented that 24% of all parents in the U.S. were immigrants, of them 32% originated in Latin America, 30% in Mexico, 23% in Asia, 8% in Europe, and 5% in Africa. Most prominently, new “second-generation” children of immigrants born in the U.S. or brought into the country at an early age have emerged as a significant and visible group. According to Portes and Rumbaut (2006), the number of children of immigrants in the U.S. surpassed 30 million in 2005. By 2050, if today’s growth rate continues, one third of all Americans will be either Asian or Latinx. America today is thus very different from its previous iteration that welcomed European immigrants at the beginning of the twentieth century as it now reflects large-scale immigration of non-Europeans.

Given recent demographic trends, assimilation will clearly not apply to all immigrant minorities to the same extent, and this is one way in which the immigration stories of past and present are likely to differ. What might assimilation look like in the very complex landscape of twenty-first century ← 1 | 2 → immigration? In the political turmoil the country is facing as these lines are being written, it is...

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