Migration and integration in borderless village: social capital among Indonesian migrant workers in South Korea

Park, Kwangwoo (2014) Migration and integration in borderless village: social capital among Indonesian migrant workers in South Korea. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

PDF - Published Version
Download (3MB) | Preview


Existing research (Guarnizo et al. 2003; Portes, 2001; Cohen and Sirkeci, 2005) has endeavoured to clarify the relationship between migrants’ transnational activities and their integration into the host society. Although there are both positive and negative perspectives on this relationship, it remains unclear whether migrants’ transnational activities are likely to help or hinder their integration into the host society (Vertovec, 2009). This thesis uses the lens of social capital and diaspora identity to shed light on the relationship between Indonesian migrants’ transnational activities and their integration in a multi-ethnic town in South Korea. The influx of migrants from various countries has led to the creation of what is called ‘Borderless Village’, where people have opportunities to build intercultural connections beyond their national group. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with a group of Indonesian migrants, which themselves show social disjunctions in terms of region of origin, language, religious belief and cultural practices, this thesis examines the integration patterns of Indonesian immigrant groups in this town.
In terms of whether transnational activities help or hinder integration in South Korea, I argue that both realities co-exist, and that the status of Wongok-Dong as a migrant enclave and the internally divided nature of the Indonesian migrant group itself are key factors in this regard. Indonesian migrants achieve integration among themselves by performing economic and socio-cultural transnational activities, thereby transcending divisions within the group. Although there are differences in terms of their capacity to conduct transnational activities that are shaped by each Indonesian immigrants’ different types of social capital, they are able perform transnational activities through creating and utilising ‘hidden social capital’. This is generated when Indonesian migrants strategically reveal one of their identities, such as Indonesian, Muslim or other positions, rather than emphasising their regional origin in Indonesia to achieve their objectives such as pursuing economic profits, saving face and maintaining livelihood. Through mobilising these additional identities, most Indonesians can access resources that enable them to perform transnational activities – making international phone calls, occupying cultural spaces, participating in national celebrations – beyond their regional affiliations. In this regard, Indonesian migrants integrate into Wongok-Dong by performing transnational activities due to the features of the town as a migrant enclave. However, they are isolated from mainstream Korean society, as they only achieve integration into the multiethnic space of Wongok-Dong. Thus, this research adds crucial dimensions to theories of the relationship between migrants’ transnational activities and integration into their host society through redefining both the features of the diaspora group and the role of social capital.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD4801 Labour. Work. Working class > HD5701 Labour market. Labour supply. Labour demand Including unemployment, manpower policy, occupational training, employment agencies
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2014 09:27
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015 13:32
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/50485

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update