The Reproductive Bargain

Deciphering the Enigma of Japanese Capitalism


The Reproductive Bargain reveals the institutional sources of labor insecurities behind Japan’s postwar employment system. This economic juggernaut’s decline cannot be understood without reference to the reproductive bargain. The historical terms of the reproductive bargain rests on the establishment of company citizenship in support of a standard employment relationship, privileging the male breadwinner in calculations for benefits in exchange for the salarymen working long hours in relatively secure jobs at the enterprise and relying on women’s unpaid reproductive labor in the family and increasingly on women’s waged work in nonstandard jobs. Such institutionalized relationships, formerly the engines of growth and stability, drag economic expansion and employment security. Gendering institutional analysis is a key to deciphering the enigma of Japanese capitalism.
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Biographical Note

Heidi Gottfried, Associate Professor of Sociology, Wayne State University. She has published several books and articles on gender and work transformation, including: Gender, Work and Economy: Unpacking the Global Economy; and co-edited Gendering the Knowledge Economy; Equity in the Workplace.

Table of contents

Preface ix Acknowledgements xv List of Tables xviii 1 The Enigma of Japanese Capitalism: An Historical Introduction 1 Forging a Reproductive Bargain in Postwar Japan 5 State and Society: The Formation of Japanese Capitalism 8 The Japanese Employment System: Regulating Labor, Labor Regulations 10 Unraveling Bargains: The Crisis of Reproduction 14 Conclusion: Precarity in Japan 17 The Enduring Enigma of Japanese Capitalism 18 2 Gendering Work: Deconstructing the Narrative of the Japanese Economic Miracle 24 The Japanese Employment System and the Hidden Bargain 26 Mapping Nonstandard Employment 30 The Reproductive Bargain 37 The Political Basis of the Reproductive Bargain 38 Conclusion 42 3 The Logics of Part-Time and Agency Temporary Employment 45 Trends and Tendencies 46 Parsing Part-time Employment 49 Socio-demographics of Agency Temporary Employment 52 Making Precarious Employment: Different Trajectories 54 National Regulatory Reform 55 Precarious Employment: Lessons from Japan 59 4 Temp(t)ing Bodies: Shaping Gender at Work in Japan 61 Feminist Theories of Embodiment 61 The Body at Work and the Work on the Body 61 Situated Selves: Gender and Embodiment at Work in Japanese Studies 63 Appropriate Methods 65 Gender, Bodies and Culture in Late 20th-Century Japan 68 Accounting for Gender Differences: the Rise of Nonstandard Employment 68 Temp(t)ing Options: Embodiment and Gender Regimes 71 Screening for Temp(t)ing Bodies 73 Age as Embodied Capacities and Competencies 76 Dis-placement in the Organizational Body 78 Conclusion 79 5 Compromising Positions: Emergent Neo-Fordisms and Reproductive Bargains 81 Fordism, Regulation and Reproductive Bargains 82 Neo-Fordism: What’s in a Name? 82 Compromising Positions: Fordism and Emerging Reproductive Bargains 85 Charting the Connections 86 Neo-Fordism and Bargains in Sweden, Germany and Japan 88 Social Democratic Corporatist Fordism: Sweden’s Third Way 88 Diversified-Quality Fordism: The German Bargain 91 Company Fordism in Japan 93 Alternative Paths to Emerging Neo-Fordisms: Stability and Change 96 Mapping Neo-Fordisms and Reproductive Bargains 100 6 Precarity among Youth: Current Challenges, Future Prospects 103 Introduction 103 Interpreting Youth Unemployment and Precarity 104 New Forms of Precarious Work and Precarity: Creating the Lost Generation? 106 Organizing Unemployed Youth 111 Conclusion: Accounting for and Consequences of Precarity among Youth in Japan 113 7 Another Lost Decade? The Future of Japanese Capitalism 117 The State of the Labor Movement: From Challenges and Opportunities to Precarity 122 Organizational Transformations and New Forms of Labor Activism 127 Unraveling of the Reproductive Bargain in Japan 134 Shifting Boundaries, Shifting Perspectives 136 Toward a New Political Agenda: Concluding Remarks 140 Bibliography 143 Subject Index 164 Name Index 167


The book will appeal to scholars and policy-makers interested in gender, employment relations, and politics and to those concerned with understanding the dynamics of Japanese capitalism and the reproductive bargain.