The research project 'Social Development and Social Quality' was first initiated in 2008 by the Institute of Social Development and Policy Research funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea.
The institute was assigned to be the core research lab by the foundation and was provided long-term funding spanning nine years. In the project, a consortium of European social scientists, who originally coined the term “Social Quality,” along with researchers from Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, and elsewhere organized to gather and analyze qualitative data with a standardized questionnaire.
From the research project, a series of three books were published, the first was Reading the Trend of Korean Society (SNU Press, 2009), the second was Risk Society, Risk Politics (SNU Press, 2010), and lastly Social Quality Trend 2009 (SNU Press, 2010).
The book to be introduced in this article is the fourth and the most comprehensive book, Social Quality of Korea: From Theory to Praxis. Each collaborating researcher on the team selected a topic to review critically and reconstructed major concepts and theories of social quality from a Korean perspective. The content of the book is as follows.
Chapter 1. Social Quality: Theory and Methodology
Social Quality of Korea: Issues by Area
Chapter 2. Socio-economic Security: From the Perspective of Social Risk
Chapter 3. Social Cohesion: Strategy for Improvement
Chapter 4. Social Inclusion
Chapter 5. Social Empowerment
Social Quality and Korean Society: Empirical Applications
Chapter 6. Community Capacity
Chapter 7. Health and Medicine
Chapter 8. Human Rights and Social Development
Chapter 9. Welfare State Strategy Types
Chapter 10. Social Quality Research and the Development of Korean Society
The first chapter written by Dr. Koo explains the structure underpinning the concept and methodologies of Social Quality, particularly in comparison with the concept “Quality of Life”.
The main body of the book is composed of two parts, the first part, Social Quality Framework, has four sections: Socio-economic Security, Social Cohesion, Social Inclusion, and Social Empowerment. In chapter two, Dr. Nam reviews the issue of socio-economic security by applying the concept of social risk. In chapter three, Dr. Jung and Ahn analyze the reason for the low social cohesion level of Korean society, where trust and transparency levels are low. In chapter four, Dr. Jung discusses social exclusion in terms of the current situation in Korea, while Dr. Kim, in the chapter five, explores social empowerment from a socio-political perspective.
The second part of the book is approaches for testing, via Korean society, the theoretical applicability of the social quality framework according to several topics. In chapter six, Dr. Jung examines the interaction between institutions and everyday life through community capacity. His approach significantly considers the context from which social quality originated and its application for specific regions or communities. In chapter seven, Dr. Cho examines multi-level aspects of health issues in Korean society. In chapter eight, new social development theory is proposed by focusing on human rights as the core of the framework. In chapter nine, Dr. Ahn suggests a welfare state strategy typology based on various elements of the social quality framework.
In the conclusion, Dr. Yee summarizes the main texts and the research limitations as well as the empirical implications. The overall objective of the book is to propose an alternative evaluation and assessment of Korean social development to contrast the economic-centered approach.