For a long time Western social scientists have interpreted the Japanese family as a cornerstone of social stability and the continuation of social values. Ezra Vogel's influential 1963 book, "Japan's New Middle Class," was mainly responsible for this view. The pivotal role of kyōiku mama, 'education mothers,' for the social system and the widespread practice of family care for the elderly have long prevented us from seeing the manifold changes going on in the Japanese family. Over the past two decades, far-reaching, even revolutionary changes have occurred, transforming in many ways what sociologist Ochiai Emiko called the 'post-war family system'. Some of these changes have been reported in a rather sensationalist way (e.g.'parasite singles'), and are generally accepted by now, while others are reported misleadingly. This lecture offers an overview of the changing and the unchanging aspects of the Japanese family.
Professor Linhart is director of the Institute for East Asian Studies, University of Vienna, Austria, Europe. As a sociologist devoted to the study of Japan he has mainly dealt with the relation between work, leisure and the family. He was among the first to examine the impact of population ageing on Japanese society. Other fields of his research are the history and present state of popular culture, including the sociological study of games. He is the 21st winner of the Yamagata Banto Prize awarded by Osaka prefecture in February 2005, and holds a honorary doctorate of Momoyama Gakuin University, Osaka.
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