S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Dept. of Communication (언론정보학과) Theses (Master's Degree_언론정보학과)
Aged Minds of Current Citizens: The Changing Nature of Regional Prejudices in the South Korean Public
지역감정의 변화가 유권자의 의사 결정에 미치는 영향: 2012 대통령선거와 2014 지방선거를 중심으로
- 사회과학대학 언론정보학과
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- regionalism; generational effects; geographical mobility; testing effects; Region Implicit Association Test (IAT)
- 학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 언론정보학과, 2015. 2. 한규섭.
- Recently, repeated surveys of public opinion have shown that long-standing regional prejudices, especially towards the two contending regions of Gyeongsang-do and Jeolla-do, have radically decreased during past decade. Given the rapid transformation of contemporary Korean society, the revisionist approaches have optimistically speculated that regional bias in the minds would be replaced by other factors such as political ideology, generational differences, issue preference, and so forth. Yet, recent electoral results and intensifying hate speech stemming from regional animus online show that regional bias is still pervasive in the public mind. Despite the ample evidence, empirically documenting the regional attitudes of the Korean public is a challenging task. The dominant approaches to regionalism seem to suffer from a lack of analytical tools to explore the persistent effects of regionalism underlying the Korean electorates political decisions. Particularly, there is a lack of understanding about how regional bias is constructed in the individual citizens political belief system. In addition, majority of existing studies on regionalism are vulnerable to the criticism that they derive conclusions about individual voters based on the analysis of group data, and thus face the issue of falsifiablilty. As a result, significant portion of existing studies on political regionalism fail to provide useful analytical tools to investigate how regional prejudices are being constructed and have changed in the citizens minds. Against this backdrop, this study aims to contribute to the vehement academic debate over the continuing power of regionalism in the Korean society. Specifically, the current manuscript is based on the fundamental idea that the extension of the intellectual implications from the history of research on modern racism allows us to identify the changes in the origins and working of regional bias. A large body of literature on modern racism has suggested that traditional, overt racism changed into the newer form of racism, which is more indirect, subtle, and ostensibly nonracial. Along this line, the current research investigated whether the inherent nature of regional prejudices has evolved into a more covert, ambiguous, and elusive belief system just as racial prejudices have developed in the contemporary American society. To properly capture the transforming nature of regional prejudices, the Region Implicit Association Test (IAT) experiments were developed and administered nationwide during the 2012 Presidential and 2014 Local elections campaign seasons. Overall, the results suggest that regional bias in the Korean public is not disappearing but is changing fundamentally. That is, testing effects rather than substantial changes in regional attitudes could have made sanguine, yet erroneous, impressions that regional bias is on the wane in the minds of citizens. Additionally, the results suggest that generational effects rather than geographical mobility contribute to lowering the level of regional hostility in the minds of citizens. Lastly, the findings of this work indicate that different dimensions of regional bias are significantly related to the citizens party preference and candidate choice. All told, this study demonstrates the continuing power of regionalism in the citizens political judgment. Then, what would be the political implications of the findings of this work in a broad context of the Korean political landscape? As generational effects were found to reduce regional prejudices, if such generational effects were held constant over time, how would the enhancement in regional attitudes influence the distribution of political preference? The results suggest that the improvements in the citizens regional attitudes are expected to influence the representation of the electorates party preference. That is to say, generational effects on political regionalism may influence the structure of regionally dominant party system by re-distributing the political preference of the electorate and leading political parties to respond by aligning their positions to these changes.