THE DOLBOMIS: Grandmothers’ Paid Care as Relational Work

Song, You Jin [Browse]
Senior thesis
134 pages


Zelizer, Viviana [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Sociology [Browse]
Class year
Summary note
As the care deficit grows worldwide, existing care policies have been limited by the prevalence of hostile worlds theories, which argue that the introduction of money into informal caring arrangements will corrupt the quality of care. Through content analysis, interviews, and surveys, I examined the case of the Seocho-gu Dolbomi program, a revolutionary policy in Korea that trains grandmothers in childcare and pays them wages to care for their own grandchildren. Using the concept of relational work, I analyzed how different family participants negotiate the meanings of the new economic arrangements introduced by the policy. Contrary to hostile worlds theories, the relationships and care in each family are not corrupted by participation in the program. Instead, diverse configurations of meaning form in the families, and each grandmother Dolbomi navigates these configurations by redefining her roles and earmarking her wages in ways that are appropriate for her family’s particular relational complex.

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