Social Category and Autonomy:Lifestory of Japanese Expatriate Spouses

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:45
Oral Presentation
Yuko MIURA, Rikkyo University, Japan
How does social category as” expatriate spouses “affect the autonomy of Japanese expatriate women who accompany their husbands?
The everyday life of Japanese expatriate spouses who lived in Duesseldorf, Germany, is explored by lifestory interviews and discussed to answer this question.
By analyzing their lifestories, it was found out that the social category as “expatriate spouses” has a dominant power in their daily lives. They were expected to be a good wife and good mother as a member of the group. Moreover, narrative analysis indicates that two social structures are closely related to this situation.
(1) Japanese rigid business-oriented society in Duesseldorf
(2) the position of being “sengyou-shufu”(non-working and full-time housewife)
In a host country, some Japanese expatriate spouses pursue their autonomy by resisting being a member of the group and try to establish their own identity regardless of this category.
However, the finding shows that at the time of resettlement, they face difficulty finding jobs because of their disrupted life course with very short-term working experiences. Their own autonomy which was nurtured and formed in Germany needs to be reexamined to create a new self-image.
This research brings a new view to the Japanese expatriate women in showing their conflict and desire for autonomy.