Cultural negotiation and fatherhood for first and second generation Korean immigrant fathers

Young In Kwon, Purdue University


Applying three concepts from the life course perspectives (time and place, human agency, and linked lives), this study explores (1) how first- (G1) and second-generation (G2) Korean immigrant fathers in the United States develop cultural identities as Koreans and/or Americans, (2) how they create a package deal of fatherhood, and (3) how father-son relationships change overtime. Using qualitative interview data with 20 G1 fathers and 15 G2 fathers, I found that G1 and G2 fathers defined themselves in diverse ways as a reflection of their life-long experiences and accessibility to Korean and American cultures and resources. When constructing fatherhood, G1 fathers tended to make a hierarchy of their roles and mainly concentrated on education and providing while their children were in school. G2 fathers, on the other hand, tried to balance their diverse roles of caring and breadwinning, as a reflection of a lack of emotional closeness with their own fathers. Father-son relationships in Korean immigrant families changed over time, in particular as G2s became fathers themselves. While G2s felt close and equal with their fathers as they developed independent lives, G1 fathers perceived this close and equal relationship as a loss of authority and emotional distance from their sons.




MacDermid, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

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