AAS Annual Meeting

Korea Session 399

[ Korea Sessions, Table of Contents | Panels by World Area Main Menu ]

Session 399: Communication and Social Well-Being in Korean Society

Organizer and Chair: Nojin Kwak, University of Michigan, USA

Discussant: Steven C. Combs, Hawaii Pacific University, USA

The media, writ large, function as an important channel through which individuals experience events and issues, reflect on personal and public affairs matters, and interact with each other. Research has indeed shown that diverse forms of mediated communication do play an important role in various domains of social life. In particular, the development of new communication technologies, such as the internet and mobile phone, introduces individuals and societies to new possibilities and opportunities. This is particularly the case in Korea, where the penetration of digital technologies has surpassed that of most of the countries. Studies have suggested that new modes of communication are woven into social fabric and political experiences in Korea. A number of case studies in Korea have demonstrated the essential role of new communication technologies—along with traditional ones—in personal, relational, organizational, and societal spaces. However, given that previous research often relied on anecdotal evidence, what is necessary, some may argue, is a careful elaboration of generalizable theoretical models and systematic research. This panel attempts to respond to this call. In particular, the panel investigates the role of new and traditional ways of communicative interactions in fostering well-being in diverse facets of social life in Korea, whose scope ranges from personal, to interpersonal, to organizational, and to societal. Utilizing social scientific methodologies, presentations, collectively, address the impact of mediated communication on the health of domains of different levels, including personal well-being, relational contentment, organizational citizenship, and social capital.

Reliance on Technology Mediated Communication and Perceived Psychological Well-being Among Koreans
Hye-ryeon Lee, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

The creation of new communication technologies accelerated to an impressive pace in the past several decades. These technological inventions transformed our ability to record and transmit sound and images, and greatly increased the speed with which we can do so. Korea leads the world in adoption of new communication technology. Korea is the most internet-connected nation in the world with 95% of households with a broadband connection. Practically all (97%) Koreans are mobile phone users, with nearly half of them subscribing to third-generation (3G) services. Indeed it is not a hyperbole to say that the phrase "I communicate, therefore I am" describes perfectly how most Koreans exist nowadays. One of the key functions of communication is to increase perceived well-being by cultivating positive social ties and relationships. While there are speculations as to how these changed communication modes affect individuals, the relative impact of heavy reliance on technology mediated communication on perceived well-being among Koreans has not been addressed in the empirical literature. Using survey data collected in Korea, this paper attempts to answer questions that will shed some light on the issue. Specific research questions to be addressed are: (1) What kinds of costs and benefits do individual associate with technology mediated communication? (2) What are the impact of heavy reliance on technology mediated communication on traditional face-to-face or direct communication interactions, both in terms of quantity and quality?; (3) Do technology mediated communication cultivate similar sense of connection that leads to increased sense of psychological well-being as do direct communication interactions?

The Impact of Computer-Mediated Social Support (CMSS) on Doctor-Patient Communication: The Case of Online Diabetes Communities in South Korea
Hye-Jin Paek, Michigan State University, USA

The field of health communication recognizes that people’s health should be understood in conjunction with their social interactions and environments. In particular, social support, defined as resources or aids exchanged by the members in a community, has been identified as an important determinant of individuals’ health and welfare. While face-to-face social support is difficult and limited, online communities can provide an alternative space where people can freely exchange health information, feelings, and coping skills. However, little is known about the extent to which computer-mediated interactions (CMI) can generate social support and what are the health-related outcomes of CMI and social support. This study aims to fill this knowledge gap. An online survey was conducted among five online diabetes communities in South Korea. Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in Korea, and its online communities are well established with over ten thousand members. Analysis of 498 survey responses indicates significant associations among CMI, informational and emotional social support, and community members’ intention to communicate with doctors. These associations, though, vary according to members’ perceived severity of their diabetes conditions. CMI is significantly related to intention to communicate with doctors, but only for patients with less severe conditions. While informational support significantly leads to the intention to communicate with doctors regardless of condition severity, emotional support appears more critical for patients with a severe condition to communicate with doctors. The results indicate the utility and potential of CMI and social support in enhancing doctor-patient communication and ultimately individuals’ health.

Communication network approaches to organizational citizenship behavior and job satisfaction in South Korea
Hye Eun Lee, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) refers to employees’ constructive behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly required by the formal job description and that in the collective promotes the successful functioning of the organization (Organ, 1988). When employees use discretion and try to assist coworkers with their work, or when they voluntarily do things for the benefit of their workgroup, OCB is engaged (LePine, Erez, & Johnson, 2002). Although there is a notion that Korean employees demonstrate OCB mainly as a function of kinship with firm owners and leaders (e.g., Redding et al. 1994), OCS has been perceived as a competitive advantage regarding human resource capabilities (Paine & Organ, 2000). The current study focused on the relationship between OCB and Job Satisfaction (JS) in South Korea. For this, communication networks at the workplace were examined in order to fully identify OCBs at multiple levels. The position of each employee in the communication networks affects with whom he/she is likely to exhibit OCBs. By applying Balance Theory (Heider, 1958) to OCBs among coworkers, the current study investigated the extent to which the relationship between individuals’ OCBs and their coworkers’ OCBs related to individual job satisfaction. It was predicted that, as an employee has more and more balanced OCB with all employees with whom he/she communicates in an organization, he/she would be more and more satisfied with his/her job. Next, it was questioned whether there are any differences among dimensions of OCB regarding the relationship between a balanced OCB and job satisfaction. Two hundred and fifty-three employees from 18 small organizations in South Korea completed a questionnaire, where communication networks at the workplace, and each participant’s OCB and JS were measured. One of the main findings is that similarity in OCB among employees in a communication network was positively related to each employee’s job satisfaction.

Mobile Phone Use and Social Capital in Korea
Scott Campbell, University of Michigan, USA

Wireless communication is the fastest diffusing media on the planet, ever. With subscriptions approaching 5 billion worldwide, mobile telephony has become a more pervasive aspect of everyday life than the television and even the computer-based internet. In Korea, the penetration of mobile technologies, such as mobile broadband, has been rapid in recent years. While there is starting to be work in this area, research on the social consequences of mobile communication is relatively thin in comparison with, for example, research on the internet. In fact, previous research that uncovered significant civic and political roles of mobile-mediated communication in Korea mostly relied on case studies and anecdotal evidence, whose conclusions should further be bolstered on the basis of more generalizable data. This study helps develop this line of inquiry by the links between the use of mobile telephony and involvement in other key areas of social life deemed important for a healthy society. Utilizing national survey data representing the adult populations of South Korea, we assess how various mobile phone uses are related to face-to-face leisure activity with others, community involvement, and political participation. Findings suggest that dimensions of mobile phone use tend to facilitate these facets of social capital in Korea. Furthermore, a series of two-way and three-way interaction analyses show that the role of the mobile phone in the production of social capital is likely to be manifested among some segments of the population, including those who are older and politically interested.