In an era of irregular labor, nagging recession, nuclear contamination, and a shrinking population, Japan is facing precarious times. How the Japanese experience insecurity in their daily and social lives is the subject of Precarious Japan. Tacking between the structural conditions of socioeconomic life and the ways people are making do, or not, Anne Allison chronicles the loss of home affecting many Japanese, not only in the literal sense but also in the figurative sense of not belonging. Until the collapse of Japan's economic bubble in 1991, lifelong employment and a secure income were within reach of most Japanese men, enabling them to maintain their families in a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. Now, as fewer and fewer people are able to find full-time work, hope turns to hopelessness and security gives way to a pervasive unease. Yet some Japanese are getting by, partly by reconceiving notions of home, family, and togetherness.
"Precarious Japan is a forward-thinking commentary on the current state of Japan, detailing a progressive history from the economic collapse in 1991 to how the country functions today in a modern, post-earthquake society…. For those wondering just how precarious Japan's future really is, this book is a good place to start." (Japan Times)
"Precarious Japan is a model of new modes of conceptualizing sociocultural theory. Here the theory is sober, mature, aspirational, hopeful, gracious. It pushes up against the limits of thinking categorically, of thinking that lived phenomena simply, magically, derive their force from the categorical-from identities, borders, inclusions and exclusions, ideals writ large." (Kathleen Stewart, author of Ordinary Affects)
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A different view of Japan
Precarious Japan reminded me of being in college and taking a Japanese sociology class.
Hearing about another aspect of Japan that most tourists never see. For example, neglected older people who starve to death in their homes because of the lack of maintaining family ties and absence of conscientious neighbors.
The Dark Side
This was an interesting book but I'm glad it was not my introduction to Japanese society. As someone who has studied and traveled to Japan, I thought she did a good job presenting the challenges that face a changing society in the 21st century. I recommend this book to anyone who has an academic interest in learning more than the basics about modern Japanese society.
- Pamela Totoro
Interesting book, reading could be better