EASC ESSAY 2 - 1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Cooper EASC...

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1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Cooper EASC 150g 1 November 2011 The Social Hierarchy in Korea and Japan The interactions and arrangements of people show the social structure of any given society. Looking deeper into Korean culture, Roger L. Janelli and Dawnhee Yim Janelli conducted field work for ten months in the rural village of Twisongdwi. Their book, Ancestor Worship and Korean Society, reflects how social hierarchy is dictated by age and gender when he provides details of primogeniture and ancestor worship. Social hierarchy determined by age is parallel to that of Japanese culture, shown through Ronald P. Dore’s book Shinohata. The inferiority of women in the work place accounted in Seung-kyung Kim’s Class Struggle or Family Struggle? and Christena L. Turner’s Japanese Workers in Protest exposes the patriarchal values of both these Asian societies through the hardships of many female workers. These women resist Korea’s social structure by forming labor unions to revolt against the unfair treatment. Although gender and age determine social hierarchy in both Korean and Japan, the influence of these two factors are less prominent in Japan. Social hierarchy is partly determined by age, which is evident through Janelli’s emphasis of the importance of age and birth order in Korean culture. Specifically, he mentions how the oldest son of the family inherits his father’s land and has the responsibility of conducting rituals in honor of his ancestors. The oldest son has many “obligations toward his parents” and must “assume any ritual responsibilities his father has had toward agnatic forebears within the three previous generations” (Janelli 1982: 99). The first son must accept all of these duties; if he were
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2 to die, the next oldest son would take over. Furthermore, within domestic rituals, “men offer New Year’s greetings only to the agnates who are older than themselves and at least of equal generation status” (Janelli 1982: 92). People did not participate in ceremonies for someone younger; nor did they offer formal gifts to them. These practices show how age influences the hierarchy of society because they were specifically intended to enforce filial piety. Along with the obligation of conducting extensive rituals, parental care was yet another burden forced upon the oldest son for life. Traditionally, the oldest son would remain in the house of his birth family and was “responsible for offering the rites of their homes and bearing most of the attendant expenses” (Janelli 1982:99). Despite the burdens of conducting rituals and caring for the family, the eldest son wields exceptional power after being granted household headship and property ownership (Janelli 1982: 43). The patrilineal inheritance used age as the criterion in assessing the amount of property and money male descendants acquired. Land ownership is a large determinant of social class, and property given to the oldest son further engraved the importance
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2012 for the course EASC 250g taught by Professor ? during the Fall '11 term at USC.

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EASC ESSAY 2 - 1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Cooper EASC...

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