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Encounters with AgingMythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America$
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Margaret Lock

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780520082212

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520082212.001.0001

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Faltering Discipline and the Ailing Family

Faltering Discipline and the Ailing Family

(p.107) 5 Faltering Discipline and the Ailing Family
Encounters with Aging

Margaret Lock

University of California Press

The basic ingredients in the discussion of the modern Japanese family and its members are, nearly everyone agrees, limitations of space in the Japanese archipelago, urbanization and other demographic changes, post-war reform, loss of contact with nature, and an increasing acceptance of the Western value of individualism. Discussants sorted and grouped this potpourri in various ways to create competing discourses about the family, some positive about the current situation but many, and most particularly in official documents, critical. Human relationships in urban areas are increasingly described as thin, a state symbolized by the phenomenon of elderly people dying alone and unnoticed. The majority of women, although they had given some thought to kōnenki, were primarily interested in family vicissitudes and work; concern about kōnenki was usually confined to the fact that it signals the approach of old age and thus inevitably impinges on family matters.

Keywords:   individualism, Japan, urbanization, human relationships, family matters, kōnenki

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