Women or Workers?
At a time when industrial labor was regarded as potentially the most volatile of Japan' s “social problems,” female labor in particular threatened to undermine a newly imagined national moral order based on the family system. This chapter notes that the cultural meaning of labor-management practices and workers' responses to them must be evaluated in light of contemporary socially and culturally contested meanings of womanhood, Japanese and various colonial ethnicities, and the development of working-class subjectivities among women. During the early decades of Japan's modernity, major demographic, technological and social changes occurring simultaneously with imperial expansion created internal boundaries between a “traditional” countryside and modern urban centers in which the containment of female workers as women played an important role.
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