Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club

University of Chicago Press
2
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In Nightwork, Anne Allison opens a window onto Japanese corporate culture and gender identities. Allison performed the ritualized tasks of a hostess in one of Tokyo's many "hostess clubs": pouring drinks, lighting cigarettes, and making flattering or titillating conversation with the businessmen who came there on company expense accounts. Her book critically examines how such establishments create bonds among white-collar men and forge a masculine identity that suits the needs of their corporations.

Allison describes in detail a typical company outing to such a club—what the men do, how they interact with the hostesses, the role the hostess is expected to play, and the extent to which all of this involves "play" rather than "work." Unlike previous books on Japanese nightlife, Allison's ethnography of one specific hostess club (here referred to as Bijo) views the general phenomenon from the eyes of a woman, hostess, and feminist anthropologist.

Observing that clubs like Bijo further a kind of masculinity dependent on the gestures and labors of women, Allison seeks to uncover connections between such behavior and other social, economic, sexual, and gendered relations. She argues that Japanese corporate nightlife enables and institutionalizes a particular form of ritualized male dominance: in paying for this entertainment, Japanese corporations not only give their male workers a self-image as phallic man, but also develop relationships to work that are unconditional and unbreakable. This is a book that will appeal to anyone interested in gender roles or in contemporary Japanese society.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Feb 25, 2009
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Pages
228
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ISBN
9780226014883
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Customs & Traditions
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In Japan, the figure of the suited, white-collar office worker or business executive ‘salaryman’ (or, sarariiman), came to be associated with Japan’s economic transformation following World War Two. The ubiquitous salaryman came to signify both Japanese masculinity, and Japanese corporate culture, and in this sense, the salaryman embodied ‘the archetypal citizen’.

This book uses the figure of the salaryman to explore masculinity in Japan by examining the salaryman as a gendered construct. Whilst there is a considerable body of literature on Japanese corporate culture and a growing acknowledgement of the role of gender, until now the focus has been almost exclusively on women in the workplace. In contrast, this book is one of the first to focus on the men within Japanese corporate culture through a gendered lens. Not only does this add to the emerging literature on masculinity in Japan, but given the important role Japanese corporate culture has played in Japan’s emergence as an industrial power, Romit Dasgupta’s research offers a new way of looking both at Japanese business culture, and more generally at important changes in Japanese society in recent years.

Based on intensive interviews carried out with young male private sector employees in Japan, this book makes an important contribution to the study of masculinity and Japanese corporate culture, in addition to providing an insight into Japanese culture more generally. As such it will be of great interest to students and scholars of Japanese studies, Japanese society and gender studies.

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