Theses Doctoral

Korean Immigrant Fathers and Acculturation From an Adult Learning Perspective

Choi, Yang Hwan

This qualitative research study focused on Asian fathers living in the United States. It raised issues about the social perceptions of minority immigrants and provided alternative interpretations of the acculturation of Korean fathers who have been neglected in diverse social and educational discourses. In particular, this study looked at recent Korean immigrants who settled in America after 2008. By doing so, this work demonstrated the distinct demographical and socioeconomic hallmarks (e.g., better educational opportunities, economic prosperity, and cultural openness) of immigration in the United States. This study is organized into two sections: a general survey which gathered information about current issues and marginalization and clarified the stereotypes facing Korean immigrants; and in-depth interviews and participative observations which collected stories and reflections from and about Korean immigrant fathers. I endeavored to (a) observe the Korean father, the family member who is most neglected by academic discourse on immigrant families; (b) identify the concerns of the modern, minority immigrant; and (c) collect the voices of people who undergo acculturation or transformative adaptation of a new culture.

The overall significance of this study is that it presents new understanding of the life patterns of Korean fathers who reside in the United States. Research participants showed a tendency to emphasize the role of a social safety network board for racial community while being individualistic in personal matters. Moreover, the social position of fathers has changed internally and externally. Internal changes engendered through specific social conditions such as identity, parenting, religion, father awareness, and food rituals and memory were analyzed as the main factors for completing the overall transformation.

Lastly, the personal experiences or traits that appeared in the process of memory and consciousness were essential for creating the defining qualities of fathers in perceptions of the Korean father figure. Through a descriptive analysis, I uncovered what the four participants, who had different immigration trajectories, shared as commonalities and differences. Transformation by factors other than culture seemed to be an important variable. The interviewees’ anecdotes confirmed the roles of memory and individual response to a complex series of cultural adaptations and provided important implications.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Interdisciplinary Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Leichter, Hope
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2021