Reworking Japan

Reworking Japan

Changing Men at Work and Play under Neoliberalism

by Nana Okura Gagné

Published by: Cornell University Press

324 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 9 b&w halftones, 1 b&w line drawing, 5 charts

  • ISBN: 9781501753039
  • Published: January 2021


Reworking Japan examines how the past several decades of neoliberal economic restructuring and reforms in Japan have reshaped corporate ideologies, gender ideologies, and subjectivities of individual employees in Japan. With the remarkable economic growth since the 1950s, "salarymen" came to embody the masculine "New Middle Class" family ideal. However, as Nana Okura Gagné demonstrates, nearly three decades of economic stagnation since the bursting of the economic bubble in the early 1990s has tarnished this positive image of salarymen. In a sweeping appraisal of recent history, Gagné shows how economic restructuring has reshaped Japanese corporations, workers, and ideals, as well as how Japanese companies and workers have responded to such changes.

Gagné explores the fraught and problematic transition from Japan's postwar ideology of "companyism" to the emergent ideology of neoliberalism and the subsequent large-scale economic restructuring in Japan. By juxtaposing Japan's economic history with case studies and life stories, Gagné goes beyond the abstract to explore the human dimension of the neoliberal reforms that transformed corporate governance, socioeconomic class, workers' ideals, and gender relations in Japan. Reworking Japan, with its first-hand analysis of how the supposedly hegemonic neoliberal regime does not completely transform existing cultural frames and social relations, will shake up preconceived ideas about Japanese men in general, and salarymen in particular.