Korea’s Great Transformation and Hagen Koo’s Sociological Journey

Hagen KooIn the past half century, South Korea has transformed itself from a poor agricultural country into a highly industrialized and globalized society.

Throughout this transformation, Hagen Koo, professor of sociology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, has been studying and writing about the remarkable social changes Korea has experienced.

Now, on the eve of his retirement, Professor Koo will offer a lecture reflecting on his past research endeavors and the trends of sociological theories that have influenced his work.

He will speak May 11, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. in the Center for Korean Studies auditorium.

Hagen KooHagen Koo is a graduate of Seoul National University and received his Ph.D. in sociology at Northwestern University in 1974. His association with the University of Hawai‘i started the following year. Then a faculty member at Memphis State University, he participated in the second major conference staged by the recently created UH Center for Korean Studies, a multidisciplinary conference on South Korea. Koo subsequently spent the 1978‒1979 academic year at Mānoa as a visiting professor in the Sociology Department, and in 1981 he joined the UH faculty.

The author of numerous articles and chapters in his field, he has also produced notable books. His Korean Workers: The Culture and Politics of Class Formation (Cornell University Press, 2001) won the American Sociological Association’s award for the most distinguished book published on Asia during 2001‒2003. The book has been translated into Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai.

Other works include the edited volumes State and Society in Contemporary Korea (Cornell University Press, 1993) and (with Kim Keong-il and Kim Jun) Modern Korean Labor: A Sourcebook (Academy of Korean Studies Press, 2015).

Koo describes his current research as being focused on the nature of economic development and neoliberal globalization in East Asia. In particular, he is interested in the ways structural changes generate new forms of class inequality and institutional changes in East Asian societies.

He is currently working on a book tentatively titled Cosmopolitan Anxiety: South Korea’s Globalized Middle Class in which he is exploring “the ways the South Korean middle class has changed significantly as a consequence of neoliberal globalization—from a relatively homogeneous and upwardly mobile class to an internally polarized, anxiety ridden, and politically unpredictable class.”

Center for Korean Studies events are free and open to all. For further information, including information regarding access for the handicapped, telephone the Center at (808) 956-7041. The University of Hawai‘i is an equal opportunity/affirmative action Institution.

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