Reworking Japan examines how the past several decades of neoliberal economic restructuring and reforms in Japan have reshaped the nation's corporate ideologies, gender ideologies, and subjectivities of individual employees. With Japan's remarkable economic growth since the 1950s, the lifestyles and life courses of "salarymen" came to embody the "New Middle Class" family ideal. As Nana Okura Gagné demonstrates, however, the nearly three decades of economic stagnation since the bursting of the economic bubble in the early 1990s has tarnished this positive image of salarymen. In a sweeping appraisal of recent history, Gagné shows how economic restructuring has reshaped Japanese corporations, workers, and ideals, as well as how Japanese companies and employees have responded to such changes.
Gagné explores Japan's fraught and problematic transition from the postwar ideology of "companyism" to the emergent ideology of neoliberalism and the subsequent large-scale economic restructuring. By juxtaposing Japan's economic history with case studies and life stories, Gagné goes beyond the abstract to explore the human dimension of the neoliberal reforms that have impacted the nation's corporate governance, socioeconomic class, workers' ideals, and gender relations. Reworking Japan, with its firsthand analysis of how the supposedly hegemonic neoliberal regime does not completely transform existing cultural frames and social relations, will shake up preconceived ideas about Japanese men in general and salarymen in particular.
About the Author:
Nana Okura Gagné is Assistant Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.