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Strangers in a strange land : Korean entrepreneurs and the Presbyterian church

Authors Oh, Hong-seok
Kilduff, Martin
Gray, Barbara
Issue Date 2001-06
Summary This ethnographic study of the small-business membership of a Korean Presbyterian church in the eastern U.S. examines how one set of immigrant families created an institutional solution to characteristic dilemmas of social and cultural capital maintenance and change. Membership in this specific church conferred multiple benefits. Social bonds were strengthened between and across families, resources were shared between those rich in experience or money and those in need, and cultural capital was recreated to impress outsiders and to facilitate the success of members. The analyses reveal a community struggling to both retain and assimilate culture, to both maintain and expand family ties, and to both pursue profits and practice an ascetic Christianity. The church offered its members the habitus of the Puritan ascetic to validate long hours of hard work in commercial activities. The church functioned not only to reinforce Korean culture but also to transmute Korean cultural capital for use in the new world.
Language English
Format Working paper
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