Home and Family in Japan : Continuity and Transformation book cover
1st Edition

Home and Family in Japan
Continuity and Transformation

ISBN 9780415488679
Published December 20, 2010 by Routledge
304 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In the Japanese language the word ‘ie’ denotes both the materiality of homes and family relations within. The traditional family and family house - often portrayed in ideal terms as key foundations of Japanese culture and society - have been subject to significant changes in recent years. This book comprehensively addresses various aspects of family life and dwelling spaces, exploring how homes, household patterns and kin relations are reacting to contemporary social, economic and urban transformations, and the degree to which traditional patterns of both houses and households are changing.

The book contextualises the shift from the hegemonic post-war image of standard family life, to the nuclear family and to a situation now where Japanese homes are more likely to include unmarried singles; childless couples; divorcees; unmarried adult children and elderly relatives either living alone or in nursing homes. It discusses how these new patterns are both reinforcing and challenging typical understandings of Japanese family life.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Continuity and Change in Japanese Homes and Families 2. Reassembling Familial Intimacy: Civil, Fringe, and Popular Youth Visions of the Japanese Home and Family  3. Reforming Families in Japan: Family Policy in the Era of Structural Reform 4. The Ideal, the Deficient, and the Illogical Family: An Initial Typology of Administrative Household Units  5. ‘I did not know how to tell my parents, so I thought I would have to have an abortion’: Experiences of Unmarried Mothers in Japan  6. Masculinity and the Family System: The Ideology of the ‘Salaryman’ across Three Generations  7. Working and Waiting for an ‘Appropriate Person’: How Single Women Support and Resist Family in Japan  8. Home ownership, Family Change and Generational Differences   9. Homes and Houses, Senses and Spaces  10. The Changing Face of Homelessness in Tokyo in the Modern Era  11. Coping with Hikikomori: Socially Withdrawn Youth and the Japanese Family  12. The Door My Wife Closed: Houses, Families, and Divorce in Contemporary Japan 13. Living Apart Together: Anticipated Home, Family and Social Networks in Old Age


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Richard Ronald is a Lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  He is the co-editor of Housing and Social Transition in Japan, also published by Routledge.

Allison Alexy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Lafayette College, USA. 


"Home and Family in Japan makes a welcome contribution to our understanding of these trends in combining macro-level analysis with ethnographic case studies, and in examining not only shifts in personal attitudes and lifestyles but also the broader policy frameworks, and the physical spaces within which families’ lives in contemporary Japan take shape... the volume makes an important contribution to the literature on family change in Japan, as it goes beyond covering the more common themes—the attitudes of single women toward marriage and family—and addresses equally significant groups, including salarymen and elderly people, as well as the growing number of single, unmarried and divorced men and women whose experiences are of increasing importance for our understanding of family dynamics in contemporary Japan." - Aya Ezawa, Leiden University; Pacific Affairs Volume 86, No. 2 – June 2013