Pluralization and Fluidization in Japanese Stratification Structure Under Globalization: A Transformation of Academic Background-Oriented Society

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Kazuo SEIYAMA, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Japan
Recent research on social stratification and inequality has focused on income and asset inequality, as typified by Piketty. But sociological tradition of this field has been much more broader, including strata composition, social mobility, inequality of opportunity, and status consciousness. However, the impact of globalization on stratification structure has not been sufficiently studied.

This presentation analyze the impact of globalization, focusing on cases in Japan, and make clear that pluralization and fluidization are the basic changes induced by globalization. To be exact, an important change in the stratification structure among advanced societies had begun with the individualization of the second modernity (Beck 1986), bringing the "decay of class society", which had been conceived as the one where each class based on occupational status has its own specific living level, culture, life-style, and political orientation which are to be carried on through generations. However, due to various factors, such class society characteristics had declined significantly before entering the 1990s.

The impact of globalization comes after the 1990s, which brought about pluralization and fluidization of stratification structure. Pluralization is apparent in the fact that stratification status has become not determined solely by occupational status but increasingly affected by other factors such as academic background, ethnicity, and gender. Fluidization can be seen in the increase of non-regular employment. And also a representative example is the "less assuredness of higher educational background": that is, carrier instability and increased internal disparity among highly educated youth.

These structural changes suggest that a stratification structure should be investigated as, not merely an occupational composition, but a socially meaningful construction of reality concerning social status, life chance, life-style and inequality. In the presentation more detailed examples and analyses of pluralization and fluidization of Japanese stratification structure will be shown.