" Here, I have found a fantastic academic environment that critically understands social inequalities and strives for social change."

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Dongwook Song

January 04, 2024

School of Communication doctoral student in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I am a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. When I first entered the MA program in South Korea, I was highly motivated to understand the precarious situations of Korean young adults, 'Cheong Nyeon (청년), a group to which I had previously belonged. I was particularly inspired by the words of a Korean cultural anthropologist, who said, "To the extent that we distance ourselves from and articulate an event that has happened to us, we can free ourselves from it." Therefore, my research pursues intellectual interventions that aim to understand our everyday lives that are both conditioned by and conditions the politico-economic constraints and structures, while concurrently exploring the possibility of social transformation through critique. In particular, I employ theoretical tools from media and cultural studies, which have been developed for the comprehensive understanding of people's day-to-day lives intertwined with social structure and power relations.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

The School of Communication at SFU is renowned internationally for its critical, interdisciplinary approach to communication studies. My research interests, which delve into the study of media-entwined everyday life through cultural studies and a politico-economic approach to communication, align perfectly with this department. Here, I have found a fantastic academic environment that critically understands social inequalities and strives for social change. I am certain that this atmosphere has encouraged, complemented, and strengthened my research projects and scholarly pursuits.

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

My specific field of expertise lies in media and cultural studies with a focus on the everyday life practices of people. Thus, it encompasses everything from media-related cultural products that we enjoy, such as TV programs, movies, and social media, to the feelings and common sense we experience in our daily lives. I am interested in investigating the cultural politics of popular culture. By applying critical approaches, I trace the history of various phenomena to explore why they were produced under multiple conditions, how they can be reproduced through various forms of media content, and above all, to reveal and visualize the hidden values that embody various forms of social inequality in terms of class, nationality, race, gender, age, and so on.

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

Contradiction, Critique, Change

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

Unlike Canadian universities, there are not many courses centered on qualitative research methodology in Korean social sciences, so I really enjoyed the courses in my department. I was even envious of the undergraduates who were able to take high-quality critical undergraduate courses! I have served as a Teaching Assistant for diverse courses including Introduction to Communication Studies, Communication for Social Change, Design and Method in Qualitative Communication Research, and Media & Modernity. Even as an undergraduate in Korea, I founded and led several study groups for critical theory and cultural studies with my colleagues and have also experienced their dissolution. Due to the fierce competition for employment in Korea, it was not easy to form and maintain a group that dealt with critical knowledge or pursued a certain perspective. At that time, I have also run a podcast channel, Iboshu, as an alternative media, dealing with cultural criticism and current issues, together with my colleagues.

Have you been the recipient of any major or donor-funded awards? If so, please tell us which ones and a little about how the awards have impacted your studies and/or research

I am honored to be a recipient of the COGECO Grad School in Communication award. Thanks to this, I was able to visit South Korea to conduct fieldwork for meeting young adults and listening to their stories. Additionally, the Graduate Travel and Research Award greatly assisted me in attending various international academic conferences, thereby enriching my research and expanding my academic network.


Contact Dongwook:dongwook_song@sfu.ca

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