Resistance or Alternative Alienation?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 63
Oral Presentation
Rafael MUNIA , Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
This paper has the goal of discussing how the political project of Japan, based on its ideology of homogeneity, alienates the Japanese youth, limiting their individuation processes to, instead, focus on a single model of Japaneseness. Through some narratives examined, the Japanese youth showed to be sensing a lack of possibility to fit in society. When analyzing the societal structure in Japan, the anachronism and rigidity of its job-hunting system; the curriculum of homogeneity and individuality suppression that begin in the school and echoes in society; the rigid gender roles presented in the classrooms and companies; the work culture of permanent availability to the company, all become apparent as the sources of the lack of belonging perception amongst the youth. Since there is a lack of imaginable structural change, the youth produce narratives of escaping this hegemonic Japan, adopting strategies of marginality (NEET, Freeter, and some counter-hegemonic sub-cultures); or even strategies of actual escape (prioritizing non-Japanese firms to work, or seeking for opportunities to live abroad.) This paper, thus, argue that these strategies come from a feeling of alienation and purposelessness within the hegemonic Japanese society. However, through the study of the phenomenon of Visual Kei, narratives of individuation and subjectivity can be composed and professed, both by language as well as by behavior and appearance. Through Visual Kei, it is argued, Japanese youth find a way to resist the oppression of their individuality in the name of the group mentality and the ideology of harmony that causes a lack between what the youth is made to achieve, and the impossibility of fitting this commodified life with no appeal to individuality. However, such communities of resistance bring forth new cases of alienation and normativity that operates in addition to the ones from everyday life.