The Deinstitutionalization of Japanese Marriage?

University essay from Lunds universitet/Centrum för öst- och sydöstasienstudier

Abstract: In the past few decades Japan has experienced changes in its marital institution. Japanese men and women have started to postpone marriage and childbearing or remain unmarried, and the number of divorces have increased. Exactly the changes in marriage trends have been the point of departure of this study. The purpose of this study was to focus attention on Japanese marriage. Specifically, this thesis has explored in what way the institution of marriage has changed and whether it has deinstitutionalized in Japan since the 1970s. By following the historical development of the marital institution in Japan from the 1970s until today and using the theory of deinstitutionalization of marriage the main conclusion of this study is that despite changes, Japanese marriage has not been deinstitutionalized. Strong attitudinal changes have taken place in favour of a less gendered division of labour. However, Japan has experienced few cohabiting relationships, extramarital childbirths, and the rules for same-sex partnerships have changed gradually. Characteristic for Japanese marriage has been its distinctive development since the 1970s with a coexistence of change and persistence of legal rules as well as social norms.

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