Accepted paper:

“Self culture” in the age of uncertainty and globalization: young Japanese outbound migrants in “lost 20 years"

Authors:

Etsuko Kato (International Christian University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores in what aspects young Japanese self-searching migrants in Canada and Australia embody universal “self culture”, and in what aspects they consider themselves “Japanese”. It also argues that self-searching project reflects the class- and gender-stratification within a society.

Paper long abstract:

In high modernity, self-reflexivity is no more a luxury of privileged people, but is an obsessive life project for lay people in any post-industrial country. When people’s concern of self culminates, it can defy conventional notions of nation-state or social norms. They, in a sense, are creating a universal “self culture”. One such people are the Japanese who quit their jobs around 30 years old and fly overseas, notably to English-speaking countries, for the pursuit of true self or “what I want to do”. The majority of such group is non-elite, and women, who experienced unstable, unfulfilling, or harsh working life as well as societal encouragement of self-improvement during “lost 20 years”, i.e., Japan’s economic recession from early 1990s to early 2010s. Based on in-depth interviews of young migrants in Canada (from 2001) and Australia (from 2011), this paper explores in what aspects these migrants embody universal “self culture”, if any, and in what aspects they consider themselves “Japanese”. The paper also argues that self-searching project reflects the class- and gender-stratification within a society, which encourages less privileged people to change and improve self more.

panel P143
Of the local, in the global: discussions on movement, development and governance