October 10, 2016/ 12:30 PM

Royce 314

New and Enduring Dual Structures of Employment in Japan: The Rise of Non-Regular Labor, 1980s-2010s

Presentation by Professor Andrew Gordon, Harvard University

A steady rise in what is called “non-regular employment” is the most notable change in Japanese working life since the 1980s. Such workers accounted for nearly 40 percent of all employees by 2015. This talk examines the distinctive aspects of the turn to non-regular employment in the context of a long history of precarious employment in Japan. A historical perspective shows that newer forms of second-tier status, including some that can be termed “non-regular regular” employment, have come to overlay continuing older ones. Important new elements include not only a far greater absolute and relative number of non-regular workers, but also their far greater presence in the service sector. In addition, today’s non-regular workers differ in social characteristics such as age, education, and gender. The relative decline of social movements is a notable impediment in seeking reform, while the move away from seeing gender as a natural axis of differentiation offers some potential for addressing the issue.

About the Speaker

Andrew Gordon is the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History at Harvard University. His teaching and research focus primarily on modern Japan. He has written, edited, or translated numerous books and has published articles in journals in the United States, Japan, Great Britain, France, and Germany. His most recent book publications are Fabricating Consumers: The Sewing Machine in Modern Japan (2011), on the emergence of the modern consumer in Japan, using the sewing machine as window on that story, and the third edition of A Modern History of Japan (2014). He is currently working on the contemporary history of Japan's "lost decades," 1990s through present, in a longer historical context.

Cost : Free and open to the public!

Download file: 10.10.16-GORDON-t4-llx.pdf

Sponsor(s): Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies