Contentious Diffusion of Human Rights: Evidence from South Korean Print Media, 1990-2010

Feb 9, 2016 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Koo Jeong-Woo (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Sungkyunkwan University; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair/Discussant: Carter Eckert (Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored with the Korea Institute

Current scholarship on human rights diffusion is not well equipped to account for the remarkable dynamics that are notable in the cycle of diffusion in a national society. Professor Koo Jeong-Woo’s alternative model considers contestation as an intrinsic element in the process of diffusion; this contentious diffusion might stem from complex domestic processes coupled with local cultural responses, political disagreements, and ideological competition. To support these claims, Prof. Koo coded and analyzed 2,134 newspaper articles that appeared in South Korean print media during the period between 1990 and 2010. Notwithstanding strong evidence pointing to a remarkable diffusion of human rights in South Korean media in the 1990s, the boom period came to an end in the mid-2000s, substantially slowing down human rights coverage as well as making its overall tone increasingly negative. The findings from South Korean print media lend support for the existence of a dynamic cycle of human rights diffusion, and the need to identify causal pathways leading to the contentious diffusion of human rights.