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Civil Society on the Move

Transition and Transfer in Germany and South Korea

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Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler

Following the transformation of the Soviet-controlled Eastern European system, there has been a renewal of discourses on civil society. The collection of essays discusses this complicated and controversial concept and explores the possibility of new approaches for the study of Korean civil society and democracy. Combining interdisciplinary and transregional research, it contributes directly to the field of democracy after democratization and sheds light on concepts of civil society, developments of various civil society organizations and student movements in Germany, Korea, and Eastern Europe.
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Voyage through Uncharted Waters: Challenges for Korean Civil Society in Times of Turbulent Democracy

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This essay is concerned with democracy and civil society after democratization in South Korea. It analyses the structure and characteristics of Korean civil society and sheds light on its assumed role of productive critic in the democratized political system. The study’s key contention is that the most significant change in civil society’s organization after democratization is its fragmentation. This phenomenon can be found also many other countries in Eastern Europe especially those that subsequently experienced regime change.

Civil society has long been recognized as a leading and vibrant part of public life in Korea. Influential and high profile though it may have been, civil society is now said to be sailing through uncharted waters after the Lee Myung-Bak (Yi Myŏng-bak) government came to power in 2008. Keeping in mind this background, this chapter intends to describe and analyze the following issues. First, it will present a general outline and the salient features of civil society in the post-democratization period. Building on insights from existing literature on the subject, it will identify characteristics of Korean civil society and clear the ground on which later discussions can be played out on. Secondly, an attempt will be made to survey the present state of affairs of civil society. A composite picture of civil society after the Lee government is drawn, using structural, institutional, ideational and psychological criteria. Third, it will ask which factors are most responsible for the current state of affairs of civil society. It is argued...

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