Morality and Legitimacy in the Sewŏl Protest in South Korea

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Sarfati discusses three Seoul cases related to protest and commemoration after a recent tragic disaster that demonstrate the centrality of morality and legitimacy to people's resentment of the perceived immorality of the government. The protests following Sewol Ferry's sinking and the subsequent impeachment illustrate how democratic governance handles public dissent in urban environments. Aware of the legal system's power, the Sewol protesters limited their dissent to legal actions, hoping to change existing laws. They influenced the protest culture and created political changes in the ruling élite. The ethnography shows how the former president failed in a key task of governance, that is, `to establish and nurture the connection with citizens' values, needs and expectations, the strength of which depends upon the observable quality of the link between political responsibility and trust and authority in the exercise of power' (Introduction: Disconnected Governance and the Crisis of Legitimacy. In: Pardo I, Prato G.B. (ed) Citizenship and the Legitimacy of Governance: Anthropology in the Mediterranean Region, Farnham: Ashgate (now published by Routledge), Pardo and Prato 2011, 1).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLegitimacy
Subtitle of host publicationEthnographic and Theoretical Insights
EditorsItalo Pardo, Giuliana B. Prato
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783319962382
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Urban Anthropology


  • Public Dissent
  • Impeachment Motion
  • Ferry Sinking
  • Bereaved families
  • Yellow Ribbon


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