Wild Geese Families: Theoretical Considerations of Relational Maintenance of Families in Distance

by Lena Yoo
Communication Studies
Faculty advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Lamoureux

“Wild Goose father” is a newly coined term in Korea, indicating a father who is left alone after sending his children abroad for early education with their mother who can provide nurture and care. As “wild geese fathers” are the financial supporters for their children’s education and living, the term originates from the birds that are known for their devotion to the family by traveling great distances to bring back food for their young (Lee, 2008). There are between 30,000 and 50,000 wild geese fathers in Seoul, the capital city of the nation (Lee, 2008). Wild geese family arrangements are the prominent outcomes of rapidly growing numbers of Korean students going abroad for early English education.

This study will research the families living in distance due to different locations of work or education, such as the “wild geese families” in Korea and the commuter families in the United States, thus analyzing both national and transnational distances.

Relational maintenance and adjustment of the distant family members will be examined through the lens of three communication theories: Interactional View by Paul Watzlawick, Social Exchange Theory by John Thibaut and Harold Kelley, and Social Penetration Theory by Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor.