Culture, Family and Alcoholism in South Korea

Yang, Jeoung-Nam. 1997. Culture, Family and Alcoholism in South Korea. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The purpose of this study is to explore how culture, family and gender factors cause and contribute to maintaining alcoholism within the family in South Korea. Forty alcoholics and fifty three families were interviewed in-depth for the study. In order to meet the test of reliability, data was compared with national surveys on family and alcoholism together with other secondary sources.
S. Korea's recent socio-economic changes have caused conflict between generations, their traditional concepts of alcohol use, together with an increased availability of alcohol has been linked to an increase in alcohol consumption.

Tolerance of male drinking, social acceptance of drunkenness, and discrimination and stigma associated with alcoholism, acted as major disincentives for alcoholics to seek help. The high prevalence of alcoholism among eldest males was linked with traditional family system as they carry special family responsibilities.

Traditional family dynamics had an adverse affect on the alcoholic and his/her family because when alcohol problems emerged within the family system, families tried to conceal the problems in order to preserve family honour. These factors enabled the alcoholic interviewees to abuse alcohol within the confines of the family circle, free from outside pressures.

Men's power over women in marriage and women's fundamental vulnerability inside the family adversely affected alcoholics and their families. The more closely members of an alcoholic family identify with traditional gender roles, the more likely the family is to accept the alcoholic's dysfunctional behaviour and so the alcohol problems tended to remain unresolved. Female alcoholics experienced greater discrimination and shame compared with male alcoholics. This reflects the extent to which patriarchal power is institutionalised in modem S. Korean society.

This study's findings have social policy implications for prevention and treatment strategies which reflect the Korean culture.

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Thesis (Doctoral)

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culture, family, gender, alcoholism, South Korea

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Date Deposited:

04 Jun 2020 12:17

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:32


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