The Culture of Fatherhood in Japanese Comic Strips: A Historical Analysis

By Yasumoto, Saori; LaRossa, Ralph | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

The Culture of Fatherhood in Japanese Comic Strips: A Historical Analysis


Yasumoto, Saori, LaRossa, Ralph, Journal of Comparative Family Studies


INTRODUCTION

"Fatherhood, history reminds us, is a cultural invention." So said John Demos in a 1982 essay that offered an overview of the history of fatherhood in America and that has since become required reading among fatherhood scholars (Demos, 1982, p. 444; see also Rotundo, 1985). Endeavoring to demonstrate how fatherhood is created (or re-created) over time, Demos focused not so much on everyday actions as on cultural representations, and made a case for how legal and religious tracts, child rearing manuals, magazine articles, television shows, theatrical plays, and comic strips cognitively framed men and their relationships with their children. In this respect, Demos gave greater attention to the culture of fatherhood than to the conduct of fatherhood, while at the same time advancing the proposition that the two are intricately intertwined. (On the culture and conduct of fatherhood, see LaRossa, 1988, 1997. On the general theoretical relationship between culture and conduct, see Stokes & Hewitt, 1976; Swidler, 1986.)

The careful examination of a variety of cultural representations has yielded insights into how the culture of fatherhood ebbs and flows in the wake of economic and other social forces, and how these forces reciprocally are affected by manifestations of culture. In the decades since Demos's article was published, research on the culture of fatherhood has proliferated (recent works include Devlin, 2005; LaRossa, 2004, 2005; Quinn, 2006; Wall & Arnold, 2007). Almost all of this research however, has centered on North America. Studies of the culture of fatherhood in other parts of the world are noticeably lacking. (For an exception, see Book & Penttinen, 1997, who studied representations of fathers in Finish women's magazines.)

The purpose of this article is to broaden the current understanding of the culture of fatherhood, by looking to East Asia and, specifically, to Japan, where a spotlight has been shown on the minimal amount of time fathers spend with their children (e.g., see National Women's Education Center of Japan, 2007). What Japanese fathers should be doing (an indicator of culture), but are not (a statement about their conduct), has become a major area of concern, at least among certain groups (Fuess, 1997). In the minds of some, for example, the low fertility rate in Japan is attributable to men's virtual absence in child care and rearing (Boling, 1998). And the Japanese government now makes it a matter of policy to actively promote father involvement, initiating a nationwide campaign in 1999 that had as its slogan, "A man who doesn't raise his children can't be called a father" (Ishii-Kuntz, Makino, Kato & Tsuchiya, 2004; see also Ishii-Kuntz, 2003; Kagayama, 1999).

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the culture of fatherhood in Japan has changed. Scholars have pointed to instances of how Japanese fathers are negatively characterized (e.g., see Shwalb, Nakazawa, Yamamoto & Hyun, 2004), with mention made of sarcastic popular expressions (e.g., dame oyaji, translated as "useless dads") or of Japanese television fathers portrayed as aloof. The implication is that these kinds of characterizations are more widespread today than they were before. Public opinion surveys also have revealed changes in the personal attitudes of the Japanese toward men's and women's roles, with people becoming more egalitarian in their thinking (Shwalb, Kawai, Shoji & Tsunetsugu, 1997; Suzuki, 1991). As revealing as these reports are, however, a systematic analysis of the culture of fatherhood in Japan has yet to be carried out (Gatzen, 2001). Without such an analysis, it is difficult to get a true sense of the norms, values, beliefs, and expressive symbols under which Japanese fathers have been-and are now-operating. Without such an analysis, it is impossible to chart historical trends.

Given the concern about the state of Japanese fatherhood and the fact that a historical understanding of fatherhood is indispensable for developing fatherhood policy and research, there is a genuine need for studies that carefully examine, over time, the culture of fatherhood in Japan. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Culture of Fatherhood in Japanese Comic Strips: A Historical Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.