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Han Sang-jin FGCA is a South Korean sociologist in the tradition of critical theory, known for his Joongmin theory. He is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Sociology, Seoul National University, Korea, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Peking University, China. He been a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York, USA, the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, France, the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Kyoto University in Japan. His major areas of interest are social theory, political sociology, human rights and transitional justice, middle class politics, participatory risk governance, Confucianism and East Asian development.
Joongmin derives from Joong (中), which refers to the middle class, and min (民), which refers to popular forces. By deliberately combining these two words, each with profound meanings, Han intended to identify the major agent of social change. Han argued that the regime in Korea was not only successful in steering continuous economic growth but also increasingly produced the modernized social forces, such as Joongmin, that would destroy this regime by demanding democratization and social reform. In fact, his theory gained public recognition and support during the movement for democratic reform in 1987.
After his retirement from Seoul National University in 2010, Han established the Joongmin Foundation for Social Theory (JMF) and, with Ulrich Beck, the Europe–Asia Research Network (EARN). In association with these, Han has been supporting and initiating various kinds of research and activities to promote cosmopolitan dialogues and cooperation.
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