Asia Pacific Education Review

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 409–422

The profitable adventure of threatened middle-class families: an ethnographic study on homeschooling in South Korea


DOI: 10.1007/s12564-009-9036-x

Cite this article as:
Seo, DH. Asia Pacific Educ. Rev. (2009) 10: 409. doi:10.1007/s12564-009-9036-x


South Korean society in the late 1990s was confronted with socio-economic setbacks and discursive turbulence concerning the quality of education being provided. It was at such a particular historical juncture of South Korean society that I conducted ethnographic research on homeschooling families. Based on field data collected from four homeschooling families, this article examines how lower middle-class families at first manifested their education fever in an unprecedented adoption of homeschooling, and then returned their children to school within the same socio-cultural context. Central to this article’s analysis is what members of these middle-class families, especially children, experienced during the homeschooling period, and how parents negotiated their rationale for homeschooling and returning their children to school within contesting discourses (e.g., deschooling and neo-liberalism). As will be shown, despite experiencing difficulties in pursuing a self-fashioned education in a school-centered society, the families benefited from homeschooling in terms of acquiring “neo-liberal” mentalities for survival without risking their established socio-cultural status. As such, this article reconfirms the ambivalent characteristics of the alternative education movement in South Korea and its inevitable connection with the middle-class habitus embedded in the South Korean socio-cultural context.


Ethnography Homeschooling Education fever Deschooling Neoliberalism Middle-class habitus 

Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationChosun UniversityGwangjuKorea

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