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Title: Women and consumption : the rise of the department store and the 'new woman' in Japan, 1900-1930
Author: Tamari, Tomoko
ISNI:       0000 0001 2435 766X
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2002
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The aim of this research is to seek to situate women in the development of consumer culture in Japan in the period 1900-1930. This period saw the beginnings of mass consumption and the rise of what was to become one of its central institutions, the department store. One of the most important department stores to emerge was Mitsukoshi, which provided a site in which the new tastes and lifestyles of consumer culture and western modernity could be looked at, sampled and practiced. In effect the store could be seen as providing a new form of 'intimate public sphere' for women. Mitsukoshi also provided images and information on the new consumer culture classifications and learning processes through its house magazines. Other magazines, especially women's magazines, whose readership rapidly expanded in this period, reinforced this message. The extent to which women were seen as the central operators of the emerging consumer culture is a central focus of the thesis. The department stores were not only spaces for women to consume, but also to work. The emergence of saleswomen as a new category of working woman is also discussed. The ways in which an image of a new women emerged as they became employed in greater numbers in the new service occupations and became more visible in the city centre streets and consumption and entertainment sites, is also considered. One variant here was the 'modern girl,' whose image was both discussed and constructed in the media by intellectuals, writers and cultural intermediaries. One of the aims of this work is to sketch out the parameters of this process in Japan and ask how far the stores and other new urban spaces, along with the mediated sources such as magazines, newspapers and the cinema, helped to further some shift (however limited and temporary) in the balance of power between the sexes towards women, along with a concomitant redefinition of what it meant to be a women. The new woman, then, occupied a contested space which a number of parties sought to define: the consumer culture industries such as the department stores, press and cinema; the government with its various thrift and everyday life reform campaigns designed to keep women in the home, albeit as skilled housewives; the various movements for greater women's rights and reform, both in the middle class and the working class militant women workers; the intellectuals and cultural intermediaries, some of whom saw the 'modern girl,' as a new exciting phenomenon of urban modernity; and, of course, the women themselves, who not only reacted to these forces, but gained in their capacity and desire to have a greater say in the process and control over their own lives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Japanese consumer culture