Document Details

Document Type:   Thesis
Title:   Modernization and Divorce in Japan
Author:   Motonobu Mukai
College:   Liberal Arts
Degree Program:   Sociology, M.A.
Degree:   Master of Arts
Committee Director:   Dr. Richard A. Garnett
Document Availability:   Document available for World-Wide access.
Date of Defense:   Nov. 30. 2004

Divorce rates in Japan have increased since the mid-1960s, and even more rapidly since the 1990s. Divorce rates decreased throughout the period of industrialization, although modernization theory has argued that economic development brings pervasive cultural changes (including higher divorce rates). However, values regarding family are also influenced by the persistence of traditional values. Before WWII in Japan, a decreasing divorce rate was influenced by political ideology, which deliberately intended to change traditional ways of marriage and divorce. After WWII, however, this ideology diminished, and material affluence has led to an individualistic view that in turn has led to higher divorce rates since the 1960s. Moreover, the Japanese cultural beliefs have been transformed from a group-orientation to a more individualistic orientation, triggered by the long stagnation of the 1990s. Modernization has brought autonomy to the Japanese. Today divorce is a reflection of autonomous and rational decision to pursue individual happiness.  

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