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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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.
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.
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