Dissertation Title: Local Motivations, Global Trajectories: The Rise and Fall of Korean International Students in American Higher Education, 1945-2020
Committee: Lis Clemens (Chair), Stephen Raudenbush, Marco Garrido
Since the middle of the 20th century, study abroad has become increasingly popular among students seeking to broaden their horizons through international experience. However, not all students have benefited equally, as elites from developing countries frequently use study abroad to obtain and reproduce their local socioeconomic status. My dissertation examines the evolution of study abroad to the United States and its impact on elites from developmental states, focusing on South Korean international students (henceforth, KIS) from the 1940s to the present. Particularly, my research investigates what elite KIS anticipated and achieved from their study abroad, as well as how their educational decisions and transnational trajectories were constrained and permitted by the ebb and flow of their home developmental state. Using a mixed method of archival analysis and in-depth interviews, this study reveals the transforming role of developmental state and globalization in shaping elite KIS's global educational trajectories and how they have evolved study abroad from a highroad to becoming local academic elites to a transnational class strategy to maintain their elite position at the top of the domestic status hierarchy. This transnational class formation study contributes to the intersection of sociology of education, social stratification, social change, and critical globalization studies.
My research interests include sociology of education, social change, historical sociology and globalization. My dissertation explores the shifting nature of Korean students’ decisions about studying in the United States for my dissertation project. Through a comparative-historical analysis of the study abroad phenomenon since the mid-20th century, I attempt to figure out how the American educational credential has operated as a mechanism of social closure in Korea, and how the mechanism has changed through the (inter)national social changes.
Recent Research / Recent Publications
Kwi Byung Kwak, Dae-Wook Kim and Hong Jin Jo. 2018. “How Do People Evaluate the Human Rights?: Focusing on National-Level Variables, SES, Discrimination, Democracy, and Political Participation” (in Korean). Korean Journal of Sociology 52(1): 117-151.