Japan's New Middle Class

By (author) Ezra F. Vogel Foreword by William W. Kelly Contributions by Suzanne Hall Vogel

Publication date:

18 July 2013

Length of book:

372 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442223714

This classic study on the sociology of Japan remains the only in-depth treatment of the Japanese middle class. Now in a fiftieth-anniversary edition that includes a new foreword by William W. Kelly, this seminal work paints a rich and complex picture of the life of the salaryman and his family.

In 1958, Suzanne and Ezra Vogel embedded themselves in a Tokyo suburb, living among and interviewing six middle-class families regularly for a year. Tracing the rapid postwar economic growth that led to hiring large numbers of workers who were provided lifelong employment, the authors show how this phenomenon led to a new social class—the salaried men and their families. It was a well-educated group that prepared their children rigorously for the same successful corporate or government jobs they held. Secure employment and a rising standard of living enabled this new middle class to set the dominant pattern of social life that influenced even those who could not share it, a pattern that remains fundamental to Japanese society today.
The underlying objective of the book is to show what has changed in contemporary Japan as a result of the massive impact of the war, the defeat, the Occupation, and the subsequent industrial growth; and what has remained unchanged. . . . Highly recommended to anthropologists who are concerned about just how to represent modern urban life ethnographically; to teachers who must give courses on contemporary Japanese life, and are searching for a good text; and to anyone who is interested in social and cultural change in modern societies.