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Korean mature women students’ various subjectivities in relation to their motivation for higher education: generational differences amongst women

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This qualitative case study attempts to conceptualize certain ‘patterns’ and ‘processes’ of which 28 mature women undergraduates give meanings to their motivation for higher education in their life contexts. Particular attention has been paid to include diverse groups of women according to their age, prior educational background, marital and occupational status. This was to seek for possibilities of differences amongst the mature women undergraduates, which is a scholarly neglected issue in the existing literature. Life history interviews were conducted with individual participants aged 25–75. Based on a combination of grounded theory approach and feminist post-structuralist theory, three types of learners were identified primarily in different generation—an age cohort that shares certain experiences in common. They are younger ‘careerist learners’, ‘personal growth learners’ and older ‘vicarious living learners’. Although the motivations for these three types of learners overlap to some extent, they disclose distinct gendered subjectivities. The analysis suggests that this partly reflects the historical dynamics of gender relations in Korean society. Drawing on empirical findings, this paper argues that more attention needs to be paid to diversities among mature women students and to socio-historical contexts under which those learners’ motivations and perspectives are constructed.
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Keywords: Korean society; gendered subjectivity; generational differences; historical gender dynamics; mature women students

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Korean Educational Development Institute, South Korea

Publication date: November 2, 2014

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