Precarious Japan

Thursday, 27 March, 2014 - 14:00

After its defeat and devastation in the Second World War, Japan rebounded to achieve record economic growth and rising prosperity for its citizenship. By the 1980s its economy was the second largest in the world and Japanese had become a “mass middle class.” But the economic miracle burst in the 1990s destabilizing financial stability and aspirational futures nationwide. Instead of regular jobs and steady incomes, more and more Japanese face insecurity in a country where now one-third (but one-half of all youth) are irregularly employed, marriage and birth rates are declining (but the elderly are living longer), and national threats including tensions with neighboring China and Korea and the danger of nuclear contamination seem endemic. Falling from prosperous to precarious times, there is a widespread sense of uneasiness amongst Japanese today. In this talk, Allison addresses precarity: how do people experience it, what is its temporality and relationship to hope(lessness) and future(lessness), what are its affects/effects, and how—and where—are strategies for surviving and transforming the social politics of well-being (to a post-precarious Japan) coming from?