Dr Mike Prentice

School of East Asian Studies

Lecturer in Korean Studies

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Dr Mike Prentice
School of East Asian Studies
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

I am trained as a linguistic and cultural anthropologist. My research broadly focuses on genres & technologies of communication, organisations & corporations, and work & labour cultures in contemporary South Korea.

Before joining Sheffield, I was a fellow at the University of Manchester where I researched digital security in organisations. Prior to that, I taught anthropology at Brandeis University in the US and held a Korea Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at the Korea Institute at Harvard University.


PhD, University of Michigan
BA, Brown University

Research interests

I have carried out ethnographic research in Korean workplaces since 2011. My research has focused on the cultural role of office life in contemporary Korean life. I am interested in the way different aspects of office life highlight broader problems in society such as hierarchy, control, freedom, and democracy. I analyse how genres and technologies of communication mediate these broader ideas and shape everyday work life.

I have a book manuscript under development based on my doctoral dissertation entitled Supercorporate: Hierarchy and Change in the Korean Office. It addresses the tensions between efforts to democratize and flatten contemporary Korean office cultures and the role of office cultures as spaces of social differentiation. I spent one year working inside a multinational Korean conglomerate in Seoul as part of this research.

For my next research, I plan to expand into issues facing South Korea’s rapidly changing digital economy. I am interested in understanding how new technologies of communication are reshaping, disrupting, or intensifying work relationships. I plan to explore these issues across different areas: the digitisation of taxi work, the rise of anonymous mobile applications for sharing work gossip, and the role of authentication and security mechanisms within digital ecosystems.

My research has been funded by grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Korea Foundation, and the Academy of Korean Studies.


Prentice, Michael M. (2020). “Old Spirits of Capitalism: Masculine Alterity in/as the Korean Office.” Anthropological Quarterly 93 (2) 

Prentice, Michael M. (2020) “Resisting flatness: Job titles, identity infrastructures, and semiotics in the office.” In Korean Lingua-Culture edited by Yoon-hee Kang. Published in Korean by Seoul National University Press. (In Korean)

Prentice, Michael M. (2019). “The Powers in PowerPoint: Embedded Authorities, Documentary Tastes, and Institutional (Second) Orders in Corporate Korea.” American Anthropologist 121 (2):350-362. (LINK)

Prentice, Michael M. & Meghanne Barker (2017). “Intertextuality & Interdiscursivity” Oxford Online Bibliographies. (LINK)

Prentice, Michael M. (2015). “Managing Intertextuality: Display and Discipline across Documents at a Korean Firm.” Signs and Society 3 (S1):S70-S94. (LINK)

Teaching interests

Korean Studies, and East Asian Studies more generally, offer students a range of disciplinary perspectives to learn with and from. While my own interests and training are primarily in anthropology, linguistics (with other interests in organisation studies and semiotics), I aim to introduce students to different disciplines across the social sciences and humanities to gain new and interesting lenses on Korea-related topics.

Postgraduate research supervision

I welcome enquiries from students interested in any area relevant to my past and present research interests. I am happy to advise undergraduate, master's, and PhD students with interests in South Korea, particularly issues around language, culture and society and new aspects of the digital economy.'

Teaching activities

EAS1041 Understanding Korea 1

EAS21007 Mass Culture and Digital Society in East Asia

EAS21008 Gender and Identities in East Asia