Transformation of Relationship in the Second Modernity in Japan in Comparison with the Theory of Reflexive Modernization

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: 303
Oral Presentation
Midori ITO , Otsuma Women's University, Tokyo,, Japan
The aim of this report is to examine how far the theory reflexive modernization can be applied to the Japanese society today.

Examining titles of books and headlines in Asahi-newspaper, we see abrupt increase of the word of ‘relationships (Tsunagari)’ and ‘ties (Kizuna)’ in and after 2011, when the big earthquake occurred. Precise examination leads us to other finding that since 2007 the number of these words began to increase and that the word of relationships mostly relates to family or community. Moreover, in 2007 a new word ‘activity to get married (Konkatsu)’ was coined and since then the word has got popularity. These suggest surge of interest in how to create or keep relationship in family or neighborhood. These phenomena to seek relationship actively seem to correspond with the theory of ‘pure relationship’ by A.Gddens or of individualization by U.Beck at a glance.

However, there are data which are contrary to their theories. If we focus on family relationship, since about 2000 we see tendencies that people regard family relationship as more important than before. First, people try to stop postponing formation of the family, which is not successful though. Second, they try to keep the family relationship; they support the idea that one should keep the family relationship, even if one becomes to dislike his or her partner, which are contrary to Giddens’s theory. Third, more people tend to support the normal family; registered marriage and the family consisting of a husband, a wife and their children. While Western societies are experiencing the diversifying of lifestyles in intimate sphere, Japanese society is experiencing the re-institutionalization of family on people’s consciousness.

In conclusion, although the theory of reflexive modernization is a useful tool to research Japanese society, we should re-theorize it from our differences.