Measured Excess

Status, Gender, and Consumer Nationalism in South Korea

Laura C. Nelson

Columbia University Press

Measured Excess

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Pub Date: December 2000

ISBN: 9780231116176

224 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: December 2000

ISBN: 9780231505871

224 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

Measured Excess

Status, Gender, and Consumer Nationalism in South Korea

Laura C. Nelson

Columbia University Press

This insightful analysis of the ways in which South Korean economic development strategies have reshaped the country's national identity gives specific attention to the manner in which women, as the primary agents of consumption, have been affected by this transformation. Past scholarship on the culture of nationalism has largely focused on the ways in which institutions utilize memory and "history" to construct national identity. In a provocative departure, Laura C. Nelson challenges these assumptions with regard to South Korea, arguing that its identity has been as much tied to notions of the future as rooted in a recollection of the past.

Following a backlash against consumerism in the late 1980s, the government spearheaded a program of frugality that eschewed imported goods and foreign travel in order to strengthen South Korea's national identity. Consumption—with its focus on immediate gratification—threatened the state's future-oriented discourse of national unity. In response to this perceived danger, Nelson asserts, the government cast women as the group whose "excessive desires" for material goods were endangering the nation.

Provides an insightful analysis of the ambivalent attitude of the residents of Seoul to South Korea's growing material prosperity through the decades of the 1980s and 1990s.

Journal of Asian Studies

Nelson's eloquent writing style allows the rare pleasure of readfing social science research that comes through factually as well as emotionally... highly recommended.

Gender & Society

Sensitive and stylish, Laura Nelson's insightful book on consumption in South Korea contributes immensely to our understanding of consumption and culture in general, and South Korean political economy in particular. Purchase it to promote scholarship!

John Lie, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

An eloquent balance of scholarly engagement and personal insights blended into a very poignant story about how South Korean women create their lives, lifestyles, and identities in the face of rapidly changing material and social conditions.

Katharine H.S. Moon, Department of Political Science, Wellesley College, author of Sex Among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.-Korea Relations

An insightful analysis of the ways in which South Korean economic development strategies have reshaped the country's national identity.

Mikyeong Bae, Acta Koreana
Preface: Notes on Methods and Writing
1: Consumer Nationalism
First Vignette: 1992
2: "Seoul to The World, The World to Seoul''
Second Vignette: 1985
3: Producing New Consumption
Third Vignette: 1991
4: "Kwasobi Ch'ubang": Measuring Excess
Fourth Vignette: 1993
5: Endangering the Nation, Consuming the Future
Fifth Vignette: 1991
6: Coda
Appendix

About the Author

Laura C. Nelson is an associate at MDRC, a nonprofit research organization, where she currently focuses on poverty, employment, and social policy in the United States.