Your essay assignment is to discuss how your family’s quality of life and, consequently, your own life chances, have been affected by your family’s social location within the larger structure of your home country. Social location refers to one’s place in society as mediated by axes of inequality, (i.e., race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age as well as your geographic location). In this assignment, we will consider three aspects of social location: the broad social policies that may (or may not) have created resources for your family, the level of resources available in your community of residence, and your family’s private resources. These resources are interdependent, but may be considered separately for clarity. For example, a family’s personal resources may be increased by a variety of factors including a prior generation’s access to affordable college educations, access to reasonable mortgages to buy a home, and access to good public schools. Conversely, a family’s private resources may be decreased if one grew up in a neighborhood that had once been redlined and still faces difficulty getting housing and business loans, if neighborhood public schools were marginal, and if college educations had not been possible for prior generations. In situations with limited private resources, it is often one major resource, (e.g., a college-prep program in high school), that allows an individual to go to college. For American students, both social class and race have influenced the kinds of opportunities that have historically been available to your family.
International Students: If you grew up outside the United States, investigate the kinds of social policies that have affected social mobility and education within your country of origin. If you can find statistical data about your country (Wikipedia, government website, United Nations, OECD data), use this information to think about how your country differs from (or might be similar to) the US. Use the questions in Part III to help you write your description of your hometown. For international students, class may play the larger role in the resources available to you and your family.
Don’t worry about statistical data–Look into the development of educational policies in South Korea. Wikipedia is fine as a first step. S. Korea received some aid from the US after the civil war and spent a lot of its resources on education in the 1960s/70s/80s. This investment in education coincided with the globalization of world economies, much to S. Korea’s benefit. People of your parents, even grandparents, age would have benefitted from the mixture of domestic investment in education and the new economic opportunities due to globalization. How might your own family history fit into this story?
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