Research objectives and background information
How does the Japan labour market react in the face of global economic change and its weak domestic economy? What impacts are brought by the change in labour market? How does this change reflect or challenge the existing gender regime in workplace?
This study mainly focuses on how gender role plays part in the change of employment structure, stressing on the increasing number of agency temp workers (haken shain) in Japan. Upon the collapse of bubble economy in the late 1980s, Japan has undergone a revolutionary change in its employment structure. The most significant change is that the common life-long employment contract in the past is no longer offered to employees while numerous new forms of employment contracts emerged, including haken shain and freeters, and its figures has kept rising over the years (Kyodo, 2013).
On the other hand, gender regime which defines the pattern of gender arrangements in any specific social structure in any given period (Connell, 2002) has been the major field of study in the anthropology of Japan as there is always a strict and clear division of gender role at all dimensions of life. In workplace, the domination of masculinity is displayed and the perception of men being breadwinners of the family as well as the contributors of the economy grants them high social status. Yet, with the change of economy mentioned above together with the increase of females taking up managerial positions, the privilege status of salarymen is under challenge (Mai, 2007). Hence, social scientists have started to raise doubts on whether the declining number of regular workers and the growing population as non-regular job holders, including haken shain, is actually a phenomenon reflecting the decline of masculinity in work or on the other way round, a sign that hegemonic masculinity is being strengthened.
Upon the simultaneous change in economic and social sphere, the aims of this project thus are to first, understand the reasons of growing numbers of haken shain in Japan labour force,; second, to discover how gender role set in workplace, especially through a feminist perspective which is often neglected in current literature and lastly, to explore how significance is hegemonic masculinity in workplace in leading to changes of economic and social structure in the contemporary Japanese society.
Non-regularisation of labour force-Haken Shain
According to Sugimoto (2010), haken shain refers to workers who are hired through indirect employment which may be on fixed- or open-ended term in full-time or part-time basis. They were first being regulated by Workers Dispatch Law in 1985 which initially only aimed at regulate the employment for subcontract workers in car and electronic industries due to their shortage of high-skilled labour. But after the revision of the law in 1999 that only a short list of industries in which haken shain was still restricted to be hired,...