This ethnographic case study considers the role of the church in the lives of Korean immigrants in a small town in the southeastern United States. Drawn to a poultry processing plant by the promise of permanent residency, hundreds of middle class Koreans have cycled through one-year commitments at Claxton Poultry since 2005. We analyze the benefits and pitfalls of adaptation strategies developed by the Korean immigrants and how their social networks both help and hinder their livelihood in a nontraditional receiving locale. Results indicate that while membership at a prominent religious congregation does offer Korean immigrants bonding networks amongst themselves, it does not equate to bridging networks with the native population. Considering the high percentage of recent Korean immigrants to the United States who attend church services, the findings of this study contribute new information to the literature on acculturation and adaptation processes.


Social Networks, Korea, Religion, Immigrants

Author Bio(s)

Dr. C. Allen Lynn is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His research interests include marginalized English language learner populations as well as critical discourse analysis. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: University of North Carolina Wilmington, Watson College of Education, 601 S. College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403-5980; Email: lynna@uncw.edu; Phone: (910) 962-2843; Fax: (910) 962-3609.

Dr. Sun-A Lee is an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Her research focuses on adolescent and young adult’s psychosocial development in diverse contexts including different family structures, ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: University of Louisiana Lafayette, Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Child and Family Studies, P.O. Box 40198, Lafayette, LA 70504-1098; Email: slee@louisiana.edu; Phone: (337) 482-1132.

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