Based on extensive survey data, this book examines how the population of Japan has experienced and processed three decades of rapid social change from the highly egalitarian high growth economy of the 1980s to the economically stagnating and demographically shrinking gap society of the 2010s. It discusses social attitudes and values towards, for example, work, gender roles, family, welfare and politics, highlighting certain subgroups which have been particularly affected by societal changes. It explores social consciousness and concludes that although many Japanese people identify as middle class, their reasons for doing so have changed over time, with the result that the optimistic view prevailing in the 1980s, confident of upward mobility, has been replaced by people having a much more realistic view of their social status.
Introduction 1. Understanding Heisei: Anchoring amidst Transformation Carola Hommerich, Naoki Sudo, Toru Kikkawa Part 1: Deciphering the ‘Middle’ – Subtle Change Behind the Scenes 1. Images of Social Stratification and the "Gap Society" Hiroshi Kanbayashi 2. Change or No Change? The Complex Relationship between Status Groups and Status Identification in Heisei Japan Ken Tanioka Part 2: Adapting to change – Social consciousness over the Heisei Period 1. Adapting to new realities? Educational Disparity in Mechanisms of Status Identification among Young Japanese Ryotaro Hazama 2. Civil society: Who participates? Haruyo Mitani and Makoto Hiramatsu 3. Support for Government Redistribution Programs in the Age of Welfare Retrenchment: Workers’ Changing Attitudes Kikuko Nagayoshi 4. Employment status as social status: Changes in the life satisfaction of regular and non-regular employees Yuto Hashizume 5. Conservative Youth? Why do young people become authoritarian and support the LDP? Mitsuru Matsutani 6. Why do married women in Japan support unequal gender norm of "working and caring? Mari Higuchi Conclusion 1. Japan after the Heisei Period – Where are we heading? Naoki Sudo, Carola Hommerich and Toru Kikkawa