Contemporary Japanese Society

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Module overview

The module is designed to offer a critical overview of changes occurring in the late 20th century Japanese culture and society. The module will prepare students for the year abroad, by providing an overview of issues facing contemporary Japanese society.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module:

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a clear knowledge about the discourses dominating present-day Japanese culture and society.

  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of present-day Japan

  • Bibliographic research methods in relation to contemporary Japan

  • Successfully gain the cultural and societal knowledge for their year abroad


Total taught hours : 20 hours. 1 hours lecture and 1 hour seminar per week for 10 weeks.

Independent study : 130 hours

Total hours for module : 150 hours

Scope and syllabus

This module is designed to look at post-war Japanese (popular) culture and society. Specific topics to be dealt with include:

  • changes of gender roles
  • challenges of an ageing society
  • identity and minority issues

Method of assessment

  • Outline with bibliography (1,200 words) OR narrated powerpoint presentation (5 mins) 30%
  • Essay OR research proposal with annotated bibliography (2,500 words) 70%

Suggested reading

Core Reading

  • Harootunian, Harry and Yoda Tomiko (eds.) (2006): Japan after Japan. Social and Cultural Life from the Recessionary 1990s to the Present. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Roberson, James E. and Suzuki Nobue (eds.) (2003): Men and Masculinity in Contemporary Japan. Dislocating the Salaryman Doxa. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
  • Lebra, Takie Sugiyama (2007): Identity, Gender and Status in Japan. Collected Papers of Takie Lebra. Folkestone/Kent: Global Oriental.
  • Rebick, Marcus and Takenaka Ayumi (eds.) (2008): The Changing Japanese Family. London: Routledge.
  • Gordon, Andrew (2003): A Modern History of Japan. Oxford: Oxford UP.
  • Weiner, Michael (ed.) (1997): Japan's Minorities. The Illusion of Homogeneity. London: Routledge.
  • Rien T. (2008): A New Japan for the 21st Century. An Inside Overview of Current Fundamental Changes. Milton Park et al.: Routledge.
  • Nozaki Yoshiko (2008): War Memory, Nationalism and Education in Post-War Japan, 1945-2007. The Japanese History Textbook Controversy and Ienaga Saburo’s Court Challenges. New York: Routledge.
  • Befu Harumi (2001): Hegemony of Homogeneity. An Anthropological Analysis of Nihonjinron. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.
  • Oguma Eiji (2002): A Genealogy of 'Japanese' Self-images. Translated by David Askew. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.

Additional Reading

  • Breen, John (ed.) (2008): Yasukuni, the War Dead and the Struggle for Japan’s Past. New York: Columbia UP.
  • Oguma Eiji (2002): A Genealogy of 'Japanese' Self-images. Translated by David Askew. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.
  • Clammer, John (2001): Japan and its Others. Globalization, Difference and the Critique of Modernity. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.
  • Hook, Glenn D. (et al.) (2001): Japan's International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security. London: Routledge.
  • Takashi Inoguchi (2005): Japanese Politics. An Introduction. Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press.
  • Coulmas, Florian (2007): Population Decline and Ageing in Japan. The Social Consequences. New York: Routledge.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules