Narrating selfhood and personality in South Korea: Women and social mobility

Nancy Abelmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article I analyze the constitution of selfhood by exploring those narratives about personality that are at the heart of middle-aged South Korean women's social mobility stories. In this project I consider agency as a discursive phenomenon: it is not an asset but is instead a particular narrative convention. Thus selfhoods are variously fortified by agency or overdetermined by larger social and historical forces. This article thereby contributes to a narrative understanding of social transformation and the rendering of social justice over periods of rapid social change such as the recent past in post-Korean War South Korea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-811
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1997


  • Class
  • Gender
  • Narrative
  • Personality
  • Selfhood
  • Social mobility
  • South Korea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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