The Coming of the New Class Society: Gender Matters

Monday, July 14, 2014: 9:20 AM
Room: Main Hall
Oral Presentation
Chizuko UENO , University of Tokyo, Japan
Back in the 1960s, Daniel Bell predicted the coming of the new class society based on the knowledge and information capitalism. Assuming that gender would not matter in the knowledge society, women expected that this society would change in a more gender-equal direction. In reality social change has promoted neo-liberal reforms that have resulted in a widening class gap and decreased social mobility, wherein gender matters a great deal. Women are cast into the labor market in the name of the “equal opportunity,” which handicaps by virtue of their care-burden. In addition, the rapidly ageing society added further burdens to the care-takers, mainly women. The result was extremely low fertility. Most OECD countries try to solve issues of care through public policy or markets, both of which depend heavily on migrant labor. In the absence of this solution, in Japan gender serves as the functional equivalent along with race and ethnicity. This explains why the women’s status in Japan as measured by the Gender Equity index or Gender Gap Index is relatively as relation to its ranking in the Gender Development Index and the Human Development Index. 

The recent disaster of the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the giant tsunami has sent out a warning that we must change our over-competitive society that places such a high value on wealth and growth. Nevertheless, the Japanese nation does not want to learn the lesson of history, despite paying an enormous price. I will argue that there is much to be learnt, both positive and negative, from the Japanese experience.