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Slovak Journal of Political Sciences

The Journal of University of Saint Cyril and Metodius in Trnava

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1335-9096
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Postmodern Japan Middle Class Related Mythology and Nostalgia

Maya Keliyan
Published Online: 2014-03-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/sjps-2013-0004

Abstract

The paper explores the transformations of middle class mythology in contemporary Japan, studying phenomena, connected to the objective and subjective middle class identification. After 1970s, when the share of people self-identified with the middle class reached 90% Japanese identity has been shaped around the sense of “all nation belonging to the middle class”. The economic prosperity after World War Two and the fact that within two generations Japan turned from a poor country into a rich society, provide the foundations of the myth of “a middle class society”, zealously maintained by political parties and the media. Since the end of the 1990s, the issue of growing economic inequality is becoming a topic of intense discussion. During this period Japanese society underwent recessions and crises followed by periods of revival; as a result Japan changed its direction from the lavish lifestyle of the 1980s to growing sense of deepening social inequalities. These transformations brought about the popularity of a new myth, this time about melting and even vanishing middle class, and nostalgic reminiscences of “happy late 1970s and 1980s” when supposedly Japanese people used to live in better society. The March 11, 2011 natural disasters and the ensuing nuclear crisis in Japan have destroyed another myth - that of prime importance of consumers` comfort, and of nuclear power plant safety. The ecologically and environmentally responsible consumption and lifestyle are an important resource for achieving vitally important task of revitalizing our-day Japan

Abstraktné

Článok skúma premeny mytológie strednej triedy v súčasnom Japonsku a študuje javy spojené s objektívnou a subjektívnou identifikáciou strednej triedy. Po sedemdesiatych rokoch 20. storočia, keď podiel ľudí, ktorí sa sami stotožňovali so strednou triedou, dosiahol 90 %, japonská identita sa formovala okolo pojmu „celý národ patrí do strednej triedy“. Hospodárska prosperita po 2. svetovej vojne a sku spoločnosť, poskytuje základy mýtu o „stredostavovskej spoločnosti“, ktorý zanietene udržiavali politické strany a médiá.

Od konca 90. rokov minulého storočia sa problém rastúcej ekonomickej nerovnosti stáva témou intenzívnej diskusie. V tomto období japonská spoločnosť prešla recesiami a krízami, po ktorých nasledovali obdobia oživenia; Japonsko v dôsledku toho zmenilo svoje smerovanie zo štedrého životného štýlu v 80. rokoch na silnejúci pocit prehlbujúcich sa sociálnych nerovností. Tieto premeny vyvolali obľubu nového mýtu, tentoraz o rozplývaní sa a dokonca zániku strednej triedy, a nostalgické spomienky na „šťastné neskoré 70. a 80. roky“, kedy vraj Japonci žili v lepšej spoločnosti.

Prírodné katastrofy z 11. marca 2011 a následná jadrová kríza v Japonsku zničili ďalší mýtus - mýtus o prvoradom význame komfortu spotrebiteľov a bezpečnosti atómových elektrární. Ekologicky a environmentálne zodpovedná spotreba a životný štýl sú dôležitým zdrojom pre dosiahnutie životne dôležitej úlohy revitalizácie dnešného Japonska.

Keywords: Middle Class; Middle Class Self-Identification; Middle Class Mythology; Nostalgia; Postmodern Japan

Kľúčové slová: stredná trieda; sebaidentifikácia strednej triedy; mytológia strednej triedy; nostalgia; postmoderné Japonsko

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About the article

Maya Keliyan

Maya Keliyan is Professor, Dr. of Sc. in Sociology at “Communities and Identities” Dept., Institute for The Study of Societies and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and part-time lecturer at The University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski”. She has been studying the Japanese society since 1994. She published three monographs on comparative sociological study of Japan and Bulgaria: Japan and Bulgaria: Modernization, Middle Strata and Rural Communities (1999), Japan and Bulgaria: Stratified Consumption Patterns (2008), (both books received the financial support of The Japan Foundation) and Local Community Lifestyle: Contemporary Japan (2010). Now (2012-2013) she is for one year The Japan Foundation Research Fellow at Department of Sociology, Graduate School of Letters, Faculty of Letters, Kyoto University which is her forth research stay in Japan.


Published Online: 2014-03-11

Published in Print: 2012-05-01


Citation Information: Slovak Journal of Political Sciences, ISSN (Online) 1335-9096 , DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/sjps-2013-0004.

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