Sookmyung Institute for Multicultural Studies

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OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 8 , No. 2

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 8, No. 2, pp.37-66
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2018
Received 30 Nov 2017 Reviewed 7 Dec 2017 Accepted 27 Dec 2017

Immigration and the Boundaries of Social Citizenship in East Asia: Theoretical Considerations in a Comparative Perspective
Ijin Hong
Institute for Welfare State Research (ISWR) in Yonsei University (

Funding Information ▼


Welfare systems in South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan were traditionally geared towards economic growth and productivity, rather than focusing on social rights. However, with increasing social policy commitments and migratory inflows in recent years, questions of who is deserving what in redistributive terms are increasingly relevant for these welfare latecomers, as it has been the case for European welfare states. By connecting discourses on social citizenship in East Asia to broader theoretical debates, this study aims to provide some conceptual instruments for a deeper analysis of social rights in this region in the face of increasing immigration trends. It is suggested that the lack of a differentiation between the ideas of status, identity, and social rights may lead to an ethnocentric understanding of social citizenship, which ill fits with the human rights perspective.

Keywords: social citizenship, immigration, East Asia, welfare state


Previous ideas and drafts have been presented in the annual conferences of East Asian Social Policy (EASP), IMISCOE and ESPAnet Italia during summer 2014, and the Japanese Association of Social Policy Studies (JASPS) in June 2015. I owe thanks to Juan Carlos Trivino for his comments on an earlier manuscript. All flaws and imperfections in the paper fall under the sole responsibility of the author.

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Biographical Note

Ijin Hong earned a combined B.A. and M.A. degree in Sociology and Political Institutions in “La Sapienza” University in Rome, Italy (2006), and a PhD in Social Welfare in Yonsei University, Seoul (2011). She is currently Research Professor at the Institute for Welfare State Research (ISWR) in Yonsei University. Her main research interests include comparative social policy, labor market and immigration. Email: (