'Politics without the politics': The evolving political cultures of ethnic non-profits in Koreatown, Los Angeles

  • Chung A
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One of the emerging issues in the current non-profit literature is concerned with ‘political’ activity and advocacy work among 501(c)(3) organisations. Particularly in the case of Asian immigrant communities where electoral participation is relatively low, the study finds that social-service agencies and advocacy groups have played an integral role in mediating between the ethnic population and mainstream political institutions. The primary goal of this article is to understand how such ethnic organisations are able to achieve their political goals within the constraint of US non-profit regulations. Based on participant observation and 80 interviews with community members, this article examines the political dimensions of ethnic organisational cultures within two 1.5- and second-generation Korean-American organisations in Koreatown, Los Angeles. I begin by tracing the historical evolution of ethnic power structures within the Korean-American community with specific attention to intergenerational relations among the political leadership. I then show how two such organisations have been able to navigate their non- profit status within existing power structures and how this has led to divergent strategies of political expression and participation.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Advocacy groups
  • Asian immigrant communities
  • Social-service agencies
  • US non-profit regulations

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  • Angie Y. Chung

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