Women, Work, and Family: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Gender Identities and Archetypes in Television Dramas
This thesis examines the challenges that professional women face in the workplace, focusing on their attempts to balance work and family. In order to elucidate these challenges, it compares the discourse of female protagonists within several popular Korean and American TV series. More specifically, it suggests that these protagonists confront several key dilemmas, including stereotypically gendered family roles (e.g., childcare responsibilities, economic support) and workplace discrimination (e.g., pregnancy, appearance). Such dilemmas also illustrate the motivations that underlie these characters’ work—including not only economic power but also social status and self-actualization. Then, taking a sociolinguistic approach to such issues, the later sections analyze conversational interactions between working women and their husbands regarding the division of domestic labor. Finally, the thesis examines these interactions from two additional perspectives: a grammatical analysis of working women’s requests to their husbands regarding familial roles; and a semantic analysis of lexical items that reveal the profound influence of social hierarchy and Confucianism in modern South Korean society.
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