Woongjae Ryoo

Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. David Cheshier - Chair


Globalization now receives as much or more attention as any concept in the academic lexicon. While scholars and pundits struggle to grasp its complex and varied worldwide manifestations, few researchers have yet focused on the South Korean media and its relationships with state and civil society, situated as it is within a complex political economic terrain. The role of agencies and institutions, especially state involvement in the media sector and in culture more broadly, has been controversial for communication scholars. In the last two decades a dramatic upsurge of neoliberal thinking has glorified the virtues of unregulated markets, and so-called ¡°end-of-history¡± discourse has ideologically championed incessant deregulation and economic and cultural privatization. Many neoliberalist scholars have argued that human nature and the structure of modern political, economic and cultural activities are such that the more constrained is the state, the better will be the quality and competitiveness of the more autonomous realms of enterprise and civil society. By contrast, my aim is to provide a fuller understanding of the political economy of a national/regional, as well as global mediascape, and to offer a more nuanced analysis of the role of the state and civil society in global and local cultural transformations, by careful attention to the case study of South Korea. Specifically, I examine interventions by the state and civil society in transforming the scene of national and global mediascapes, focusing on their various policies, regulations, movements and other initiatives. While it would be absurd to deny the pressures on semi-periphery by powerful international organizations (e.g., the IMF or WTO), these global constraints and pressures do not wholly dictate policy outcomes, whether economic or cultural, and globalization is not an inevitable nor omnipotent force that utterly deprives societies of their ability to maneuver when they must decide on policy. Hence development or social changes are negotiated in a manner more complex than typically acknowledged by globalization scholars (from the left or right), and in ways that aim to open up closed and inefficient institutions and reflect local social conditions and its needs, and sometimes succeed in doing so.