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Social Integration: Concept, Measure,and International Comparison

Jaeyeol Yee | Seoul National University, Department of Sociology(

Byonghee Cho | Seoul National University, Graduate School of Public Health

Dukjin Chang | Seoul National University, Department of Sociology

Myoungsoon You | Seoul National University, Graduate School of Public Health

Myungsook Woo | Seoul National University, Institute for Social Development and Policy Research

Hyungjun Suh | Seoul National University, Institute for Social Development and Policy Research


Abstract

Social Integration has been an important issue in the Korean society as conflict and disintegration become more severe problem in these days. This article reviews previous concepts and theories of social integration, clarifying related concepts and providing coherent logics of social integration.

Utilizing theories of economic and political institutions and social quality, this article conceptualizes social integration as a ratio of potential conflicts and integrative capacity. Under this conceptualization, it is an arduous task for a society which has high potential conflicts and low integrative capacity to achieve social integration. On the other hand, a society with higher integrative capacity would maintain social harmony despite high potential conflicts. Potential conflicts are measured as the sum of economic inequality, distrust, and disparity in value orientation. Next, social integration capacity was measured as the sum of system capacity, lifeworld capacity, and societal moral capacity. Here system capacity is composed of the government expenditure on public educationa and welfare, life-world capacity as the sum of freedom of press, gender empowerment, voter turnout, and democracy. Transparency was the measure for moral resources.

Calculation of social integration index using empirical data shows that Korea ranked 40th among total 86 countries. Following profile analysis finds that distrust and ideological ․ cultural skewness are main sources of conflicts in Korea. It also reflects that Korea is lagging behind in political and social empowerment. It also reveals that more transparency is needed to be more integrated and harmonized society.

The empirical analysis shows that there should be two contrasting approaches for more social integration: ‘Tight coupling’ of norms and real application is required for institutions related to public rules, whereas ‘loose coupling’ is necessary in educational, cultural and industrial areas where individuals’ autonomy and creativity play essential role.


Key Words: social integration, system, life-world, conflict


Korea Social Policy Review 21(2), 2014.06, 113-149