Mommy Saves Japanese Society?

by Mayumi Kurosawa

Recently, a decrease of labor force in Japan is one of the major problems for Japanese society.  This problem seems to have two causes: one is that “団塊世代” (= the baby boom generation) is to retirement age, and Japanese society loses much labor force at the same time, and the other is that birth rate is declining annually and Japanese society is aging rapidly.  Kosuke Motani who is one of the committee of the Cabinet Office estimates that seven millions of labor population (20 years old – 59 years old) will dwindle away in a decade.  This decrease of labor force can lead serious problems to Japanese society, such as a depression and nursing care for elderly people. Generally speaking, accepting immigrants can be a solution and foreign workers can be important labor force for Japanese society. But, we might already have another solution: Mommy.

Of course, accepting more immigrants has many advantages, but I think that housewives and mommy have potential to save Japanese society. According to the census, there are more than sixteen-millions housewives who don’t jobs today. Although they don’t earn money, they work hard for their family. They do the household chores day after day, cooking, cleaning room, laundering, taking care of their children and parents, and so on.  If their labors are converted into money, they might earn as much as (or more than) their husbands.  Employing more housewives and mommy can stop the decreasing the labor population and have more advantages than accepting and employing foreign workers.

First, there are less need to educate housewives and mommy than immigrants.  In the case of foreign workers, they need to learn language and a company should help them to learn study and adjust to Japanese society.  Moreover, a company should teach them know-how carefully.  On the other hand, most housewives and mommy have worked once, so it’s not much cost than employing foreign works.

Second, housewives have influences on Japanese domestic consumption, which brings Japanese economy to dynamics.  But, foreign workers tend to send money to their family in their home country, so they don’t have much influence on Japanese consumption.

Taking advantages of mommy’s potential saves Japan from serious social problems.  The generation that housewives and mommy play a more important role in the society may come soon!

Example of Social Deviance

When we think of social deviance, what example do you come up with? The typical one is like nose picking, outlandish or inappropriate modes of dress, heroism (saving the life of another person while putting your own life in great danger).

Friend of mine, who lives in England, did some experiment for the deviance matter. The content of the experiment is that you have to walk backwards in the college campus all day long. He said that he got over 300 dirty looks on campus especially when he was walking with friends, because people notice groups more than they notice individuals.

Another experiment was that he went to the bank with £40 and exchanges them into a penny. And then go to a store and attempt to purchase some products amount for £40 with a penny. Of course, no way it was refused to purchase with only a penny.

These example of experiments clearly show what the social deviance is, isn’t it? However, some sociologist argue that the concept of deviance is not the act itself like picking nose or walking backwards. The act seen as the deviance is the reaction of others. Of course, extreme example like killing someone is not in this term, but the simple act like I mentioned above, I think the act of reaction is the deviance. This does not say that we should not behave like surprised even though we face such a scene though. The act of deviant sometime put the label on innocent people and some deviant act is not regarded as abnormal thing in other nations. We cannot see the people with the same standard of deviant. If there is next chance, I would like to scrutinize the example of various deviance for each country.

by Shoya Tai

Muslims in Japan

Being a Muslim myself, I have to say that religion plays an enormous part in my daily life. From the time I wake up until I sleep, the way I dress and what I eat, they are all been influenced by religion.

I used to live in Egypt before coming to Japan. It is foreign, but still a Muslim country. My life in Egyptian community was not as different as in Japan but somehow the religion factor made it even better. Even though we have different languages and cultures, but just because you are the same religion as them, they treat you like family. The sense of belonging was there.

I was not sure about people of other religion, but I think Muslims have strong ‘religion-bond’ or ‘comradery’ between us. For most of us, ethnicity does not have that much of an impact in our social life. For example; if you ask me who I am, the first thing that come to my mind is not “I am Malaysian” but “I am a Muslim”. It is what I define myself. And it’s  already embedded there, deep into my subconscious part. No matter where I am.

Some people living outside of their country, outside their comfort zone, during lonely or desperate time will usually search for their own countrymen, people of same language and culture but not me I guess. People usually will tell me that it must be lonely to be the only Malaysian in the campus. For me, I don’t really care if there is a Malaysian around. Sure if there are others it will be ‘welll that’s goood’ but if there are other Muslims, it will be ‘that’s great!!!’.  For example, whenever I went to new places for travel, or even during the first time I arrived in Japan, the first thing I checked out was the location of nearest mosque. Find a mosque and your loneliness will go away. Find a mosque and you will definitely find a Muslim community that will help you to adapt and welcome you with open arms. Find a mosque and you will find your source of halal food.

Of course I do not mean to say that the Japanese are not friendly or helpful. They are in fact friendly and very helpful. But it’s a bit different than being with fellow Muslim. You feel less awkward wearing hijab because they wear it too, you can (and cannot) eat the same stuff, you pray and fast together. No matter which language we use, and sometimes we don’t even have same language to communicate with each other but we definitely understand each other so much more better.

Very interesting video about Islam in Japan if you guys are interested.

By Sakina Mahmud

Is Rational System Good?

It is important to have communication and connection between people, like the idea learned in class about the rational system, which is an idea of just thinking of you own only and not the others. The example I liked the most was when our professor said about the teaching style. Now it is just about 20 students, but it is possible for him to teach thousands or millions of students cramming students in big class or teaching over the internet. This method is very efficient in teaching the professor’s knowledge to many students; however, there might be students who might not understand some points, but the professor will not really care about or look after for that student. This shows that there is almost no close connection between the students and the professor. Therefore, the class right now with about 20 students is perfect to keep connections and make lots of communications.

I really believe that not just only the students and professors/teachers, but the communications and the connections between many people are very important to everyone. By having communication, people feel better and seems like they are supported by the others; but, if a person is lonely and hardly makes any communication, he/she will feel that something important within their life is missing. The connection with people will help each individual in their life, so the rational system is not good. In my opinion, I think that rational system is just a system that loses the important connections with people in order to just spread one’s idea and teachings. I believe the people who are reading this will have something in their mind that communication and interacting with each individual is important and the idea of rational system is inefficient and not many people will agree with it.

by Cody Ueda

Social Deviance of Discipline

Have you ever thought about social deviance of children’s discipline between Japan and America? The discipline by Japanese parents is normal in Japan, but will be against the law in America, when parents hit their children in public. Well, I was grown up from both views so I had not much of an impression, but as I got older, I started to notice on the difference. I think the culture is different to start out with. First of all, you will almost never see a person hitting another in occasions or a television show that hits people like in the “Manzai” in America. But in Japan, especially in the Kansai area I believe they have the highest possibility in hitting the others while talking. I am not sure about in the Kanto area, but child discipline in Kansai is astonishing to foreigners, I believe.

On the other hand, in America, if a parent is caught when hitting a child in public by a police, there is a high chance of being put in jail. So far, I don’t know any people that happened to but, hitting discipline in America is very strict. Looking at this, we can see that Japan and America has almost the opposite social deviance. Therefore, when travelling to other areas, you have to think about the social deviance in that area.

Anyways, just by crossing an ocean, it’s amazing how the social deviance differs this much. However, I believe other Asian nations might be similar to Japan or maybe even harsher!? Therefore, there might be difference from the stereotype of Asians and Non-Asians. I don’t know about the other social deviance difference in other nation, so it would be more interesting if there’s somebody who is capable in comparing it, then I would like you to let me know about the other places are.

by Cody Ueda

Japanese women’s labor problem

It was common that women stop working to go into a home and to concentrate on housekeeping or child-rearing when they get married or have a child till a decade ago in Japan

However, these days, it is becoming the present condition that not resigning work continuously even if woman carries out marriage or returning to work when her child comes to leave a hand in an advances to society, and a woman as well as a male commits it. However, the woman cannot be working on the same conditions as a man in practice.

The rate of the Japanese woman’s employment rate which the woman by investigation of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development who received education above the high school graduate attaches to work was the 29th place among 30 nations of member nations. That is, even if there is school education, an opportunity to employ efficiently in society is not enough. Moreover, probably, it is the causes that man and woman’s salary has a gap or that the social consciousness of resigning work if marriage is carried out is also deep-rooted.

Moreover, “Man is out and woman is in the house”, in other words, the fixed idea that a man works at the office and woman does housekeeping still remains. So woman has many burdens also in the society of the present age when the woman advanced in society.

It is necessary to advance environmental management which can demonstrate female capability as a measure against future, and it is required for it to build the environment where equipment of compatible employment environment and reemployment tend to carry out work and child-rearing.

by Ayaka Hori

Applying Merton’s Strain Theory to Young People

As we learned in the class, deviance is to behave defiantly to the adults and teachers, or even to the society itself. It is usually seen in the junior and high school students, who are neither little kid, nor are grown adults. I think everyone should have been distressed by finding your position and role in the society. For this article, I would like to study about the strain theory by Robert King Merton, and apply it to the characteristics of teenager students in Japan and how they make efforts to their dream and how they run for deviance.

As all of us have experienced, the teenage period is very important to find and establish our personality and decide our future. Many middle and high school students should have some ideas of their future and study for it so that their dreams will come true. Adults say if we do our best, we will be able to succeed in the society. Especially in Japan, however, because of the recession, no matter how hard we make efforts, some of us have difficulty to survive in this society.

According to Robert Merton’s strain theory, there are 5 different types of people who make efforts for the future. First type is ‘conformists.’ People of this type have clear idea for their future and accept their goals. In order to attain that, they study and go to university, and work. Then finally their goals are attained. Second type is called ‘ritualists.’ Different from conformists, ritualists reject their goals, but gain the standard education during the school days, and not try to achieve their goals. Third one is called ‘innovators.’ They are people who have passionate to attain their dreams, but find other ways to reach it. Fourth and fifth types are towards deviance. Fourth type is called ‘retreatists’, who reject the goals and ignore it. They avoid joining to the society and live in solidarity. Students who do not go to school and stay at home can be categorized to this type. Fifth type is called ‘rebels’, who also reject and ignore the goals, but try to change the society itself through deviant behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drugging, and so forth instead of going to school.

For the case of conformists, ritualists, and innovators, we do not need to worry so much because they can somehow contribute to the society. How about retreatists and rebels? How can they avoid running towards deviant behaviors? If I can advise them to overcome such deviance, I will recommend them to find their own personality and have confident of it. Most of them are suffered because they do not recognize what they are living for. If they can find what they really like and what they really want to do, they will actively go outside and contribute to the society. Also I will recommend them, though it is a bit hard, to accept that we all should keep growing and improving as we get old. Otherwise even they will be willing to grow and improve in 20 years later, perhaps it will be already too late.

The truancy is one of the biggest social problems, so adults and the society, and even all of us have responsibility to take care of them to grow up and understand what they think and what they want. I wish this problem will be solved very soon.

Sociology – Robert Merton’s Social Strain Theory’  (17/1/2012)

by Takeshi Sakagami

Double Limited

Do you know the word “dekasegi”? I guess you know this word. If someone goes to “dekasegi”,which means that go to another country to find better job in order to make living. The dekasegi people from Brazil are quite famous in japan and there are a lot of people from Brazil as migrant workers. They normally take their children with them and stay in Japan like 3 or 7 years.

The problem here is that the children who were took by their parents. They usually come to Japan when they are 5 or 8 years old, so they speak some their main language, Portuguese for example. During their stay in Japan, they will be able to speak Japanese so they seem like bilingual. However, in fact, they are really afraid to go back to their country and their school life. It is because that they can speak little Portuguese and little Japanese. They can speak neither language sufficiently. This is called double limited problem. The teacher works in the elementary school in Shiga said that this kind of student study hard and tried to speak Japanese with limited vocabulary. However, they actually did not improve their Japanese. He thinks that the reason why they cannot improve their language level is that the student will be able to improve another language when they acquire their mother tongue. Since they have no foundation or standard, they are more difficult to get another language than others.

The economic level is decreasing in the world and we Japan no longer need the worker like dekasegi people. Therefore, they are now forced to go back their home country with having the anxiety like I mentioned. I think this is going to be more serious problem in the near future.

by Shoya Tai

Modern Times

After last week’s sociology class, I remembered the film called “Modern Times” which was a famous black-and-white movie starred by Charles Chaplin some decades ago. Chaplin acted as a worker in a factory working on an assembling line in the film. The only thing he should do was to fix nuts on mechanical parts on the conveyer belt. But as the speed of the belt went faster, it was no longer possible for human to finish the work. So, Chaplin failed to finish his work and was finally fired by the factory. After Chaplin got fired, he went on the street and saw a woman wearing a coat. And the buttons on the coat were similar to those nuts on mechanical parts, so Chaplin used his wrench to fix the “nuts” on the woman’s coat. Actually, this kind of phenomena can also be seen nowadays. Since people are getting smarter and lazier, the idea of being efficient has become the most important purpose of everything. It not only can be seen in factories, but also in our daily life. Like what professor told us, “McDonaldlization” was occupying our life. It is indeed very efficient and more importantly, as a fast food chain restaurants company, McDonald won the competition with other old styled fast food chain restaurants by using this “efficient method” of making food. But when we think about the employee of McDonald, we may find them similar to Chaplin in Modern Times, both of them are trained to do easy and simple things as fast as they can. So, if one day the need of being efficient goes beyond the ability of human, what should those companies do?

In fact, being efficient has nothing to blame. The point is what we need is not spending our life on an assembling line, we want to enjoy life. Thus, the pace of life should be slowed down in order to make life more humanized than being mechanical. The aim of being efficient should be limited to average, so that no one has to be trained to be machines. McDonald succeeded in fast food competition, but I think no one would like to choose foods made on an assembling line if they know the fact behind the scene.

From my point of view, you may not have to wait long for McDonald foods, but they taste all the same and you may have to wait for long if you cook on your own, but that is exactly what our life is.

Chaplin Charles (director, writer and actor), Modern Times, 1936

by Xu Wenhao

Singer’s Lip Sync and McDonaldization

In the last class, we studied McDonaldization by George Ritzer. We learned the reason why McDonald’s success in business can be explained in four key concepts by Ritzer’s McDonaldization; that is, predictability, efficiency, substitution, and calculability. These concepts lead to irrationality although they seem to be rational and good aspects of McDonald’s system, and I agree with the idea that the McDonaldization is related not only to fast-food industries but to other business worlds. This is because I think I could find many examples of the McDonaldization there, if I intended to seek.

At the end of last year, we could see many music programs on TV in Japan. When I watched such programs, I noticed some singer’s lip sync. Today in Japan, there seems to be a tacit understanding about singer’s lip sync. But I feel something strange and can’t accept it in my mind. But after I learned the Mcdonaldization, I found that singer’s lip sync was similar to it. Then, I would like to write about the connections between singer’s lip sync and McDonaldization using Ritzer’s PESCI model.

I think predictability, efficiency and substitution are especially connected with singer’s lip sync. The predictability of McDonald is showed in the constant tastes and menus. McDonald’s foods are not surprisingly delicious, but their taste is always stable. Singers also try to arrange enough and successful entertainment to the audience. Considering singers’ lip sync is caused by the intention to avoid failing in singing, we can say it is predictability. The efficiency means McDonald serves food quickly by omitting troublesome jobs. In the same way, lip sync makes everything go well. Thanks to the lip sync, singers can introduce hard dance scenes to their performance. They can show their up-tempo songs and hard dances at the same time. Referring to substitution, lip sync needs non-human technology. While singers lip sync and dance to the music, they depend on recorded voices. The human voice is substituted to the non-human recorded voice.

In this way, I think singer’s lip sync is related to McDonaldization. Lip sync has many rational points, but we think it is irrational because singers who lip sync seem to lose what real singers should be. In these days, various things are gradually rationalized. The Mcdonaldization can be seen anywhere. Without being contented with it easily, we should always try to see McDonaldization objectively.

by Sakiko Maruyama