The modern understanding of the “the pursuit of happiness” has focussed on the (male) breadwinner and citizen. This modern subject is seen as an individual whose welfare is realised by competing in the market and enjoying spending his earnings there.
The new waves of feminism in Germany and Japan have intensely discussed this idea of the rational individual citizen on the market and have developed new meanings of happiness for women and men. Their thinking started from eros, autonomy and equality and they changed the understanding of the modern subject in several ways: In the debate on care, they demanded individual autonomy in social networks of caring. They insisted that wellbeing means freedom from violence and discrimination in the public and private spheres. Also they included the body in their concept of the modern subject. Wellbeing is thus related to persons with bodies and close relationships which rely on individual freedom as well as on care for elderly and children.
It will be considered how gender policies took up some of these concepts in Germany and Japan in a comparative perspective.
Prof. Dr. Ilse Lenz is professor of sociology of gender and social structure at the Faculty of Social Science of the Ruhr-University Bochum. Her main fields of research are globalization, gender and work, women’s movements, governance and social change in the global context, and complex social inequalities in comparative perspective. Her latest publications include: Die neue Frauenbewegung in Deutschland. Abschied vom kleinen Unterschied. Eine Quellensammlung. [The new women’s movements in Germany. Farewell to the little difference. A source collection]. Wiesbaden (2008). Forthcoming in 2010: with Michiko Mae: Quellensammlung zur Neuen Frauenbewegung in Japan [Source collection of the new women’s movements in Japan]. Wiesbaden.