Relational ethics as a cultural constraint on fathers' parental leave in a Confucian welfare state, South Korea

Yeon-Jin Kim, Suyoung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Promoting fathers' parental leave has recently become of major policy interest in many welfare states. The Korean Government also introduced paid parental leave for working fathers in 2001 and has increasingly strengthened such incentive schemes. However, despite its rapid advancement, fathers' utilisation of parental leave is increasing slowly and most fathers still opt out of their responsibilities for childcare. As sociocultural norms are a primary cause of this low take-up behaviour pattern, this study focuses on the Confucian relational ethics deeply embedded in Korean society. Through in-depth interviews with 15 Korean working couples, this article demonstrates how Confucian relational ethics constrain fathers from enjoying their individual right to parental leave by designating them as last-resort caregivers within families and as forefront workers in the workplace. This study shows the importance of the sociocultural grounding of a society to ordinary citizens when they utilise a social policy in their daily lives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)684-698
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Volume54
Issue number5
Early online date2019 Dec 19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ethics
  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

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