Japan’s Urban Singles: Negotiating Alternatives to Standard Family Households by Prof Richard Ronald
Date : 29 Sep 2016
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Dr Simone Chung, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore


In Japan’s post-war decades, striving for one’s own suburban home became an important part of standardized life courses and was associated with high marriage rates and supported by stable education and employment transitions. With the end of high-speed growth a quarter of a century ago ‘standard’ families and life courses have lost their hold. Changes in household formation however, have not manifested in increases in divorce rates, unmarried couples or children born outside of marriage, but rather by people not forming conjugal partnerships at all. A particular concern of my presentation are the new types of housing pathways being negotiated by younger, especially urban individuals who have either chosen not to, or have been inhibited from, forming a formal conjugal partnership. I focus on two different pathways: forming a one-person household as either an owner-occupier or, more commonly, a renter; and renting a room in one of the growing number of ‘share houses’ in Japanese cities. I draw on secondary sources as well as interviews carried out with people aged 25 to 39 (from 28 households) in the Tokyo area in order to illustrate important, but as yet, largely unacknowledged transformations in life-courses and housing careers. I critically examine how younger adults are negotiating alternatives to family household careers and explore transformations in meanings of home and family for Japan’s growing population of unmarried.


Richard Ronald is Professor in the Centre for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and at the School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham, UK. His research focuses on housing in relation to social, economic and urban transformations in Europe and Pacific Asia. He has held Japan Foundation as well as Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowships at Kobe University in Japan (2002-2006), and been a Visiting Professor at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, as well as the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Housing Policy and Co-editor of the Palgrave book series The Contemporary City. In 2011, Richard received a European Research Council Grant in support of the HOUWEL project (www.houwel.uva.nl), investigating the role of family held housing property wealth in shaping welfare relations and regimes.


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Minghua TAY