Villages Astir: Community Development, Tradition, and Change in Korea

By John E. Turner; Vicki L. Hesli et al. | Go to book overview

10
The Findings in Retrospect and in Prospect

In this concluding chapter, we shall not only be summing up, but we shall also be discussing briefly the implications of the research for social, economic, and political change in developing countries generally. Since some of our findings are congenial with those in other studies, parts of our discussion will be anchored on a fairly solid empirical base. Other parts of this section, however, rest almost entirely on our own research effort, and hence the underpinning will not be strong until confirmatory studies are undertaken. Because our investigation has been focused upon a subject about which social scientists have only a smattering of definitive knowledge, at times we shall necessarily be entering the realm of conjecture.

As a starting point, let us turn again to the poorer villages as of 1979. By the dictates of the research design, the villages in the disadvantaged cluster were characterized by a low level of material resources, and, as we have seen, had comparatively little contact with the outside world. The inhabitants of these poor settlements lived on the thin edge of subsistence, perceiving themselves as being powerless against the rugged forces of nature. In George Foster's ( 1965) terms, they viewed the supply of goods as limited, a psychological outlook that placed them in competition with their neighbors for the necessities of survival. The scarcity of economic resources set the boundaries of this daily struggle, blurring the image of a better life.

The data give us a glimpse of attitudes and behavior in an environment of scarcity. Compared with the respondents in both the better-off and the intermediate settlements, the people in the poor villages were much more individualistic in outlook, disdaining cooperation both in their attitudinal orientation and in their actual contributions to communitywide projects aimed at improving the welfare of all. They were unwilling to delay the gratification of their immediate needs in return for the promise of an improved living standard in the future. The poorer respondents were more fearful of assuming risks because any losses would bring additional privation to their households.

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