Work and Lifecourse in Japan

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

pursue a feminist ideal and indeed the wife may be working only out of economic necessity. In such cases the "negotiation" is frequently an arena of conflict in which goals and timetables repeatedly clash without resolution. (This situation is graphically depicted by Lillian Rubin in chapter 9 of Worlds of Pain.) Clearly, if we are to gain a broad understanding of woman/man negotiation over lifecourse timetables, we need studies at various points in the socioeconomic scale as well as differing cultural settings.

Remember too that the feminist movement does not speak with one voice. One aspect is the demand for equality in the race for status and material reward -- women should have as good a start and as many opportunities as men in the competition for "successful" careers in the more desirable lines of work and other activites. This approach would focus on career timetables in much the same way that we have done in the past, except that women would be included as major contestants in the race. We already have some data to show that in an occupational race defined in this manner, the wife, the single woman, and indeed the single man is at a disadvantage compared to the married man who, despite ideological statements, receives disproportionately large career support from his wife while making disproportionately small contributions to household and child-rearing activities.

Another feminist approach declares that the race itself is inhuman -- a male game to put women down and incidentally making the world a less pleasant place to live in. Proponents of this view would presumably support radically different goals for both women and men, and with them different occupational, family, and other lifecourse timetables. What would such a lifestyle look like? There are already people trying to live in close approximation of a noncompetitive philosophy, but except for the communes of the late 1960's and early 70's, social scientists have paid little attention to them. Even though a noncompetitive lifestyle may never become a prominent feature of the post-industrial world, it could show how far people can modify the commonly accepted career patterns of their society.


References

Abegglen, James C. 1958 The Japanese Factory. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press.

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