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Caring Across Generations

The Linked Lives of Korean American Families

Grace J. Yoo

Publication Year: 2014

More than 1.3 million Korean Americans live in the United States, the majority of them foreign-born immigrants and their children, the so-called 1.5 and second generations. While many sons and daughters of Korean immigrants outwardly conform to the stereotyped image of the upwardly mobile, highly educated super-achiever, the realities and challenges that the children of Korean immigrants face in their adult lives as their immigrant parents grow older and confront health issues that are far more complex. In Caring Across Generations, Grace J. Yoo and Barbara W. Kim explore how earlier experiences helping immigrant parents navigate American society have prepared Korean American children for negotiating and redefining the traditional gender norms, close familial relationships, and cultural practices that their parents expect them to adhere to as they reach adulthood. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 137 second and 1.5 generation Korean Americans, Yoo & Kim explore issues such as their childhood experiences, their interpreted cultural traditions and values in regards to care and respect for the elderly, their attitudes and values regarding care for aging parents, their observations of parents facing retirement and life changes, and their experiences with providing care when parents face illness or the prospects of dying. A unique study at the intersection of immigration and aging, Caring Across Generations provides a new look at the linked lives of immigrants and their families, and the struggles and triumphs that they face over many generations.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

...capacities towards the development of Asian American studies on college campuses, as well as writing grants and researching health and social issues impacting the Korean immigrant community. Through a 2005 Community Grant Award...

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Introduction: Caring across a Lifetime

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pp. 1-12

...settled in Los Angeles near other Korean immigrants. Both parents were college-educated. Joel’s father had worked in Korea as a mid-level manager, and his mother had been a homemaker. After immigration, however, the family’s life changed dramatically. His father...

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1. Brokering Dreams

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pp. 13-39

...ran a number of small businesses until they retired in the early 2000s. Today, Lauren remembers the pressure to “do it all” in her childhood. In addition to taking art and music lessons, studying for good grades, and helping out in her parents’ business...

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2. Giving Back

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pp. 40-69

...sounds like a familiar narrative. His parents owned a store and worked long hours until his mother developed serious health problems that required around the clock care when Patrick was in...

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3. Caring about Culture

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pp. 70-100

...that Lauren’s generation (and beyond) will not only neglect their grandparents but himself and his wife after they pass. Lauren’s father’s sentiments echo concerns shared among many immigrants that their children born and/or raised in the United...

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4. Gender at Work

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pp. 101-134

...Without her labor and attention to their extended families, he would not be able to devote the amount of time he does to his work. Albert attributes her willingness to take on this role...

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5. In the Midst of Caring for Ill Parents

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pp. 135-164

...become his full-time care-giver, and suddenly, her parents, who had owned a string of small businesses over the years and had two children in college, had no savings and no income...

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6. Linked Lives: Where Do We Go from Here?

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pp. 165-180

...the support they have provided in the face of structural constraints and both Korean and American cultural norms. The narratives of adult children of immigrants do not negate or minimize the lifelong work of their parents who came to a new...


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pp. 181-182


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pp. 183-194


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pp. 195-210


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pp. 211-214

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About the Authors

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pp. 215-215

...Grace J. Yoo is Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. She is the editor/co-editor of Koreans in America: History, Identity, and Community...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814771983
E-ISBN-10: 081477198X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814768976
Print-ISBN-10: 0814768970

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 881183547
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Caring Across Generations

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Korean Americans -- Social conditions.
  • Korean Americans -- Family relationships.
  • Older immigrants -- United States -- Social conditions.
  • Adult children of immigrants -- United States.
  • Adult children of aging parents -- United States.
  • Immigrant families -- United States -- Social conditions.
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