Localization of social science research in selected academic disciplines in South Korea (2021)
Social science contributes to social development when theory and research topic are linked to its social context. However, in practice most social scientists in South Korea tend to explain their social issues and problems through mainstream theoretical perspectives that were primarily developed in the West. This study investigates how much social science research is localized in four selected social science disciplines (sociology, political science, public administration, and education) in South Korea. The study analyzes articles published in one representative domestic journal in each discipline to assess the localization of knowledge production during the last three decades (1988–2017). It was found that the local knowledge-base of Korean social science research is relatively weak though it has been continuously increasing during the last three decades. It was also found that knowledge production in social sciences is reliant on Western theory even though the research topics are locally embedded. In addition, the findings revealed that there are noticeable differences between the applied fields (public administration and education) and the pure fields (sociology and political science). Applied fields of public administration and education are more locally embedded than pure fields of sociology and political science. This study proposes that social science research in South Korea should draw more on indigenous knowledge and be less reliant on Western theory in the future.