Informal social networks in Korea: Covering the cost of major life events

Ram A. Cnaan, Chul Hee Kang, Kyo seong Kim, Lewis Hyukseung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates an informal voluntary social arrangement for financial assistance with discrete major life events known in Korea as Sang-Ho-Bu-Jo. This informal voluntary arrangement is neither public nor private, but is based on social networks that produce a unique form of civic society. Sang-Ho-Bu-Jo covers people's transitional one-time needs. This study explores the practice of Sang-Ho-Bu-Jo and its origins and provides the first systematic empirical study of this social phenomenon. Three large databases are used to analyze the scope and level of participation, as well as what variables correlate with such involvement. The study finds a high rate of participation, over 80% of households, and an average investment of 2-4% of household expenditure. Sang-Ho-Bu-Jo can help scholars and policy makers worldwide in understanding the role of socialization, social networks, and social capital in explaining innovative informal methods of social care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-637
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Kim (2009) and Park (2008) explore the origins of Hyang-yak ( ), a governing system that emphasizes local control during the Chosun Dynasty (from 1392 to 1897). They trace the origin of this system to the Korean philosopher named Yulkok (1536–1584). Hyang-yak is a Confucian community-organization system. The Chosun Dynasty was characterized by the shift from Buddhism, which was supported by the Koryo Dynasty, to Confucianism. In the attempt to establish a Confucian state, the Chosun Dynasty adapted rules of community control from the Chinese Chu Hsi (or Zhu Xi) of the Song Dynasty. While Hyang-yak , which literally means community code, was meant to control community affairs, it also established the norms of mutual support.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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