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Five Phases of Brokered International Marriages in South Korea: A Complexity Perspective

Parallel abstracts

The paper examines the evolution in international commercial marriage migration from Southeast Asia to South Korea from a Complexity Theory (CT) framework, originally from natural sciences but vastly entering the field of social sciences. CT stresses the non-linear nature of complex systems that are composed of a large number of individual components operating within a conditioned boundary whose interactions lead emergent properties in an unpredictable way. The study is based on the author’s fieldwork interviews and participatory observations of marriage migrants, government officers, and social workers in South Korea in 2010-2013, which establishes five phases of brokered marriages, namely, (1) Outsourcing Brides (mid 1980s-), (2) Emerging Anti-Trafficking Norms (early 2000s-), (3) Institutionalizing Multiculturalism (2006- ), (4) Regulating Brokers (2008-), and 5) Sham Marriages and Emerging Nationalism (2010-). She explains the key elements of marriage migration as a complex adaptive system such as feedback loops, adaptation, emergence, self-organisation and agency, and suggests persistent observation and CT as an alternative methodology to study migration.

Cited by

KIM, J., KIM, H., & HAN, H. R. (2021). Chinese Immigrant Women's Experiences as Community Health Workers in Korea: A Focus Group Study. The Journal of Nursing Research, 29(5), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1097/jnr.0000000000000446