After the Crossroads: Neo-liberal Globalization, Democratic Transition, and Progressive Urban Community Activism in South Korea
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The main purpose of this study is to understand the historicity of the dynamics of socio-economic changes and the characteristics of social and political mobilization in the case of progressive activists' ongoing search for new strategies of progressive urban community politics in Seoul, South Korea, after the historical conjuncture of democratization and neo-liberal globalization. This study is conducted through participant observation, interviews, and post-fieldwork historical research. By adopting the concept of "multiple-layeredness" as the underlying perspective, this study aims to capture the complexity and hybridity of past and recent socio-economic transformations. The progressive community activists are products of historically specific circumstances of state repression and radical social movements in the 1980s and the 1990s, and the influences of their past activist experiences are visible in their community activism. Historically, the state has been implicated in popular mobilizations for the national goals of economic development and democratization, which resulted in two-party domination in local politics. Under this unfavorable political condition, the community activists seek to acquire their places in public institutions through local elections and to organize grassroots resistance against local "growth machines" by mobilizing various social ties.