From political activists to social entrepreneurs: Burmese refugees in South Korea

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Using the case of Burmese refugees in South Korea, this study reveals how the convergence of democratization in the homeland and the attainment of legal refugee status prompted former political exiles to establish socially responsible businesses for furthering their activism. By shining new light on the emergence of such social entrepreneurship amongst former political exiles, this study seeks to overcome two tendencies in refugee studies, namely to relegate the establishment of a business to a livelihood pursuit, dealing with business largely from an economic standpoint; and to approach activism only from the perspective of direct political engagement. This study integrates these two separate threads and brings the discussion of social entrepreneurship into refugee studies, demonstrating that some businesses established by refugees should be understood as a form of activism. Furthermore, the study demonstrates that the transnational aspects of social entrepreneurship has accelerated inter-Asian connections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-389
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Yonsei University Future-leading Research Initiative of 2014 (2014-22-0133) and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A5A2A01027195). I would like to thank Elane Ho, Cabeiri Robinson and anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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