Work and Lifecourse in Japan

By Samuel Coleman; Theodore F. Cook Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

who may be able to offer a position at the "right time" -- that is, at a time when a career shift is being considered, such as when a university doctor realizes he is not likely to obtain a permanent university professorship. The birth of his children or their reaching a given age (e.g., college entrance) may entail expenses which make some positions more desirable than others. His movement from one career timetable (e.g., hospital appointment) to another (e.g., private practice) may be dictated not only by the career contingencies of the occupation itself, but by the point in the life cycle of his parental and matrimonial families. It may also be linked to the careers of other people -- for example, if a sponsor's university career is blocked, his follower also has to seek another career line. If a physician wants to pursue a civic career, he will be able to do so more easily in a private practice than in a university or hospital job. Long argues that such links are probably not unique to medical careers, but represent a pattern which could be widely detected if we were to focus the same kind of attention on persons in other lines of work.

The papers give evidence of other linked careers. Jack Lewis in Chapter Six shows that election to public office is closely associated with occupations with a combination of property and discretionary time, e.g., farming and private business. Among other things, a political career (whether one is elected or not) does not disrupt the occupational career of such persons. McLendon and Noguchi show a link between marriage and occupation for men as well as for women. Young corporate men are less likely to be promoted if they are not married, and their superiors will let them know this if they have not taken action on their own by a "reasonable age." The character of the marriage partner may also have an effect on their promotion chances. Among railroad workers we find instances of a reverse cause and effect -- a young man's marriage chances are reduced if he fails to get expected early promotions.


Conclusion

Taking off from the contributions of papers in this volume, what might we say about career timetables in modern societies?.

First of all, the linear time structuring in Japan does not seem significantly different from that of modern North America and Europe. Is this because such time conceptions are widespread throughout humankind or because Japan is so thoroughly "Wester-

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