Division of individual and society
Cross-cultural similarities formation of the modern family. The modern family first emerged in the 19th century family role in socialisation process resulted in emergence of distinctive Japanese self Japanese character based on wider social group/'vertical structure' of social relationships = Since the Meiji restoration of 1868, the Japanese have changed some of their basic ideas relating to the self and individualism (Rosenberger, :11) The study of Japanese culture and societal relations can help us to understand the ‘self' without Western bias or individualistic assumptions. Rosenberger argues that the Japanese combine the self and the social, and view them as mutually independent processes. She asserts that Westerners ‘idealize themselves as individuals, in control of emotions and social relations, able to think abstractly by cause and effect logic' (Rosenberger, :2 ) Conversely, non-Westerners are influenced by ‘emotion, relation, and context', qualities that require a collective and animistic environment. ‘unintegrated selves' / self emotionally invested in social world. = The family unit is the central institution of Japanese society. It is largely homogenous in terms of culture, ethnicity and language, structured, and highly integrated. Distinctive.
Confucian-heritage societies similarities A high proportion of Japanese families consider themselves to be middle-class, and therefore children are morally well socialised (Naito, :64). Segregated gender roles. Social changes have resulted in structural alterations to family life. Indigenous culture affected by the process of modernisation. The central role of the family place ‘a heavy emphasis on the importance of duties, obligations, and loyalties (Naito, : 65) Traditional belief systems, such as Confucianism, Shintoism, and Buddhism as well as various other modified religions have helped to bind families together though shared practices and a sense of collective identity (Naito, : 65). In Japan, religion means mostly the ‘practice of family-related rituals and celebrations, rather than adherence to a tightly organised system of beliefs'. The Meiji restoration brought about the introduction of a universal legal system which homogenised the family unit. After World War II the social system became more democratic and reminiscent of the U.S. legal system.
Family values have been shaped by both the effects of modernisation and the emphasis on the traditional ie system. The ie family refers to a household group which is based on ‘economic, kinship, religious and political functions' and ‘organised hierachically' (Naito, : 66). It is also patriarchal in nature. Authoritative relationships within the family have been reflected in wider societal relations because they provide ‘a model for authority relations in non-kinship groupings' (Naito, : 67). Members of authority are greatly respected and loyally abided. Japanese have the highest life-expectancy in the world (Naito, : 67), but a significant low and declining birth rate. Greater range of family structures
Parents tend to be permissive of children who are under seven years old because they are believed to be in a temporary transition between a world of gods and ‘belong to a sacred realm'. (Naito, : 69) However, children are not considered to be innately good or moral, rather in a natural state of purity Delineated and collectivistic nature of social practices. Children are trained to be obedient out of loyalty and respect for their parents. Research by Caudill and Plath (1966) has shown that it is common for young children to sleep in the same bed as their parents, and subsequently a close dependency and proximity is formed between mother and child. Co-sleeping arrangements are not affected by space or availability of rooms which portrays the necessity of close physical attachments among family members.
Children are well socialised and generally receive complete devotion from their parents, and in particular from their mother (Naito, : 72). This corresponds to the ideal or traditional vision that a mother should be obligated to tend to the child's every need, and this results in a strong interdependent relationship which is reflective of Japanese culture and character. Children are well adjusted members of society who integrate themselves easily into a wider social circle. Blah blah, affects how they relate to eachother and express themselves interpersonal communications. Early physical dependency in Japanese culture, and an emphasis on empathy leads to ‘frequent use of subtle, indirect means of communication being a strong source of interaction in the family' (Naito, : 73). Japanese fathers are traditionally recognised as strong, disciplinarian figures, and remain detached from child disciplinarian processes. They central focus is usually work because of strong societal pressures to provide for one's family and traditional gender roles promoted by the ie. Because of work they ‘tend to spend less time with their children compared with other societies' (Naito, : 73) Academic achievement is a prestigious value in Japan, and the necessity for hard work is socialised into children from an early age (Naito, : 74) However, due to the highly competitive nature of Japanese schools and the rigid learning systems they endorse, it is not uncommon for children to experience problems relating to their self-esteem.
A mother will ‘profoundly influence the moral character' (74) of her offspring, and it is not unusual for adolescents to experience conflicts over the pressure to live up to their parent's ideals and expectations, and acquiring a lifestyle and identity of their own. Domestic violence inflicted by a son onto his mother is often understood as ‘as attempt to cut himself off from strong feelings of dependence' towards his parents (75). Young women are also known to deviate from traditional values, and single ‘parasite' daughters are publically condemned for latching onto their parents for financial support. These ‘parasite' daughters are known for remaining single as a means of obtaining independence from cultural norms and expectations. The increasing trend of ‘parasite' daughters reflects an ongoing re-establishment of gender roles. The focus on the child as the central of the family unit and is more well defined than the relationship between spouses (77) Couples are less likely to overtly express their love to each other. Arranged marriages (miai-kekkon) are common in Japan, and are linked to the notions of honour and stability within the community (75). Some are arranged through convenience, and romantic love is not a pre-requisit in such situations. The marital relationships between the Japanese appear to be more restrained, and infused with less emotional intensity then those in other cultures. Spouses tend to relate to each other as ‘two halves of a unit' rather than as individuals (Naito: 78). Couples operate as a functional unit in order to avoid any kind of conflict.
The role of the elderly in Japanese society is being redefined, and this links to changing structure of the family. Older generations tend to adhere to more traditional values, such as moving in with their families, however younger generations are more likely to have reservations about this. Once an established tradition, in recent years there has been a significant decline in people aged 65 or over co-habiting with their son's family (78), and this may be due to differing cultural expectations between the older and younger members of the family. Tensions between wife and mother-in-law are common and well documented. This is partially due to disparages between the women, as the wives attempt to resist the demands of the mother-in-law's superior status. (79) A further influence to this conflict is the deep rooted dependence between the husband and his mother, and many new wives struggle in adjusting to this powerful bond. Japanese families are becoming less traditional as cultural traditions are continuously evolving. . They are now less hieracally ordered and are shaped by central role of the children and the intensity of the relationship between child and mother. Modern Japanese families are now more nuclear and egalitarian in nature, reflecting the processes of modernisation. Influences such as changing gender roles, a rise in individualism and an increase in technological developments mean that the nature of the family is being continually readjusted and redefined. Japanese society must therefore negotiate between old and new customs, and learn to balance the conflicting demands of the modern world. Despite changes in the family system, some aspects of the family remain distinctly Japanese such as the enduring kinship bonds, interpersonal commitment and an emphasis on empathy (80).
A typical ‘traditional' mother figure is required to devote herself entirely to the need of her children. Durable value system despite processes of rapid social and cultural change. The dual labour of rearing children and working independently is not facilitated in Japan, and many modern women feel obliged to choose either one or the other. More than half of 30 year-old women in Japan have elected to remain single, and this has led to a rapid decline in birth rates (81). Families need to address their emotional needs, and balance this with the demands of wider society by adopting a more flexible, and modern approach. Tierney (1987): Japanese define themselves reflexively. Although they are able to absorb and reflect a Western culture of individualism, they interpret it collectively as emotionally-bound and interdependent members of society. The Japanese family is based on a different kind of social relationship to any Western family, and works as a cohesive unit. Strive for independence (parasite)