Women in two nations and four states : a comparative study of the impact of political regimes and culture on the status of women in the two Koreas and the two Germanies, 1945-89
Communist regimes have claimed that communism is the vehicle for women's emancipation. They maintain that sexual inequality can only be abolished as part of the broader socialist transformation through pulling women into the paid labour force. If the communist claim is true, women in communist regimes should be equal regardless of their cultural tradition, while women's position in communist regimes should be higher than in capitalist regimes. However, women's experiences in communist regimes revealed that their position varies from country to country and region to region, revealing the influence of culture in a variety of guises. In this respect, the former two Germanies and the two Koreas provide a rare chance of a cross-regime and cross-cultural comparative study. Germany and Korea have maintained distinct cultures different from their neighbours. The traditions of the two nations ran into revolutionary changes and discontinuities in the wake of their division into communist and capitalist regimes. The communist regimes of Germany and Korea advocated women's emancipation through making women part of the working class. Their achievements and failures compared with their severed national halves constituted a laboratory situation for the test of the communist claim. In this thesis, the communist claim is tested through the comparison of women's positions in the four countries, in all aspects of social life: under the law, in the education system, at work, in the family and in politics. The novel contribution of the thesis is its cross-cultural and cross-regime analysis, measuring the impact of the state on women's emancipation, taking into account different cultural impediments. It contributes to the development of feminist analyses of the state and culture, adding empirical evidence to theoretic arguments.