OMNES : The Journal of multicultural society

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OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 9 , No. 1

[ Article ]
OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society - Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 148-184
ISSN: 2093-5498 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2019
Received 24 Nov 2018 Revised 04 Jan 2019 Accepted 11 Jan 2019

“When Social Media are Your Sole Life Jacket”: A Capability Analysis of Foreign Brides’ Empowerment by Social Media in South Korea
Dominique Nduhura ; Shin Dong Kim ; Nadine Mumporeze
Hallym University, South Korea
Hallym University, South Korea
Hallym University, South Korea

Funding Information ▼


Social media have proven to be among the digital developments that have drawn the highest academic interest since the early 2000s. As regards digital migration, empirical evidence has established countless benefits of using social media, including the reinforcement of social ties (also referred to as strong, weak, and latent ties), thus allowing technologically mediated social practices that were impossible before the advent of social media. From this backdrop, the present paper aims to shed light on the ways foreign brides harness social media platforms in South Korea. This research is underpinned by Sen’s Capabilities Approach and, drawing from qualitative interviews and focus groups discussions, the authors undertake to verify the extent to which this approach is appropriate to explain the foreign brides’ situation. Key findings suggest that social media play a pivotal role in foreign brides’ empowerment as they navigate dire conditions, but also, in some instances, may embed capability deprivation. This research bears significant theoretical implications as regards the Sen’s Capabilities Approach. Among other things, the study concludes that individuals are not necessarily responsible masters of their own destinies as contended by Capability Approach proponents.

Keywords: social media, capability approach, empowerment, foreign brides, digital migration, South Korea


This paper was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015S1A5B4A01037022).

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Biographical Note

Dominique Nduhura (First Author) has a Master’s Degree in Culture, Communication and Media Studies from Kwa-Zulu Natal University, South Africa, and trained extensively in digital journalism in Africa, Sweden and the US. He is a Lecturer at the School of Journalism and Communication, University of Rwanda, where he served as Dean for 4 years (2007–2010). His research interests include development communication, digital technologies and society, social media and citizen journalism, and ICT policies, among others. He is currently a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in Communication and a researcher at the Institute of Communication Arts and Technologies (iCat) at Hallym University, South Korea. E-mail:

Kim Shin Dong (Second Author) is a Professor of Media and Communication and Director of the Institute for Communication Arts and Technology at Hallym University, Korea. He has written and taught on media policy, politics and media, globalization of media and culture. His writings appear in Asian Popular Culture (Routledge), East Asian Cinema and Cultural Heritage (Palgrave Macmillan), Mobile Communication: Social and Political Effects (Vienna: Passagen Verlag), Perpetual Contact (Cambridge University Press), Handbook of the Media in Asia (Sage), Contemporary Television (Sage). E-mail:

Nadine Mumporeze (Corresponding Author) (Ph.D.) is a feminist scholar in social sciences and humanities with 16 years of work experience. Her research interests include gender equality, sociology of mass communication and media, sociology of attitudes, sociology of work and employment, social stratification, social change, development theories and strategies, human resources management, and teaching. Her recent publications dwell on gender issues both in the African and Korean context such as the gender digital divide; social media uses by migrant women; sextortion; and factors influencing attitudes towards women’s employment. E-mail: