The Journal of Educational Sociology
Online ISSN : 2185-0186
Print ISSN : 0387-3145
ISSN-L : 0387-3145
Meritocracy Structure in Opportunities of Higher Education in South-Korea
Admission Opportunities of Both Genders to Each Type of Colleges and Universities
Mee-Ran KIM
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1998 Volume 62 Pages 23-42


This paper analysis the structure of educational opportunities in South-Korea, which like Japan has strong tradition of Confucianism and is famous for intense competition for admission to colleges and universities. In line with analysis of inquiry to college and university students in Seoul, it investigates how inequality in educational opportunities remains in South-Korean society in which the equal opportunities seem to be growing.
The Main findings are as follows: 1) in spite of popularization of higher education, there still remains inequality in educational opportunities due to social class of a student portrayed by job and educational background of his/her parents ; and 2) the social class affects admission opportunities for college and university types ranked by the student's individual abilities in accordance with their school performance, that is, by merit. It is confirmed that inheritance of a mechanism reprocucing the social class exists in the system of higher education of which opportunities are thought to be offered to everybody based on the meritocratic principle. However, 3) the knowledge is gained that a factor of merit-that is, one's ability rather than that of the social class-dominates admission of male students to top universities in accordance with a mechanism that excellent male students from local towns and villages can enter top universities even though they bilong to lower classes. Therefore, the result that a factor of the social class has strong effect on educational opportunities for female students is acquired.
In spite of the fact that differences in educational opportunities and their correlation with the social class emerge from discrepancy between the two genders, mechanisms how and why the differences that come out have been hardly studied. Therefore, the kind of previously overlooked viewpoint on female students considered in this paper may shed light on various aspects of gender studies in addition to studies of educational opportunities and social class.

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