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Legitimizing the plastic body: rise of plastic surgery and changing body ideals in contemporary South Korea

Åberg, Mia (2015) ACET35
Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University
Abstract
South Koreans today take a remarkably liberal attitude towards plastic surgery, as the highest per capita consumers of plastic surgery in the world. This rise in surgery has accompanied dramatic change in the Korean attitude towards the body and advanced a new attitude, one that was rare as recent as in 1990. Moreover, this contradicts the long held Confucian attitude towards the body. Originating from late Choseon, predominant Confucian values held that the body was sacred, and should remain unaltered since it is bequeathed by one’s parents. This thesis examines how these dominant attitudes towards the body had changed and led to today’s liberal attitudes regarding plastic surgery over the past few decades. It first builds on theories of... (More)
South Koreans today take a remarkably liberal attitude towards plastic surgery, as the highest per capita consumers of plastic surgery in the world. This rise in surgery has accompanied dramatic change in the Korean attitude towards the body and advanced a new attitude, one that was rare as recent as in 1990. Moreover, this contradicts the long held Confucian attitude towards the body. Originating from late Choseon, predominant Confucian values held that the body was sacred, and should remain unaltered since it is bequeathed by one’s parents. This thesis examines how these dominant attitudes towards the body had changed and led to today’s liberal attitudes regarding plastic surgery over the past few decades. It first builds on theories of culture to understand the source of such change and then uses discourse analysis of advertisements and a TV show to examine the prevalent new logic that endorses plastic surgery consumption. The thesis argues that the new market for plastic surgery accompanied a swift value change wherein market actors (i.e., plastic surgery clinics and other media agents) actively used certain status-based notions as “tool-kits” to forge the plastic body as a new ideal for status competition and in the process, displaced old attitudes towards the body. This thesis shows how adoption of new cultural practices in the midst of globalization simultaneously happens on the basis of prior cultural understandings. (Less)
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author
Åberg, Mia
supervisor
organization
course
ACET35
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Cultural Change, Confucianism, Status Competition, Plastic Surgery, South Korea
language
English
id
7510659
date added to LUP
2015-07-01 15:47:48
date last changed
2015-07-01 15:47:48
@misc{7510659,
  abstract     = {South Koreans today take a remarkably liberal attitude towards plastic surgery, as the highest per capita consumers of plastic surgery in the world. This rise in surgery has accompanied dramatic change in the Korean attitude towards the body and advanced a new attitude, one that was rare as recent as in 1990. Moreover, this contradicts the long held Confucian attitude towards the body. Originating from late Choseon, predominant Confucian values held that the body was sacred, and should remain unaltered since it is bequeathed by one’s parents. This thesis examines how these dominant attitudes towards the body had changed and led to today’s liberal attitudes regarding plastic surgery over the past few decades. It first builds on theories of culture to understand the source of such change and then uses discourse analysis of advertisements and a TV show to examine the prevalent new logic that endorses plastic surgery consumption. The thesis argues that the new market for plastic surgery accompanied a swift value change wherein market actors (i.e., plastic surgery clinics and other media agents) actively used certain status-based notions as “tool-kits” to forge the plastic body as a new ideal for status competition and in the process, displaced old attitudes towards the body. This thesis shows how adoption of new cultural practices in the midst of globalization simultaneously happens on the basis of prior cultural understandings.},
  author       = {Åberg, Mia},
  keyword      = {Cultural Change,Confucianism,Status Competition,Plastic Surgery,South Korea},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Legitimizing the plastic body: rise of plastic surgery and changing body ideals in contemporary South Korea},
  year         = {2015},
}