Society for East Asian Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper looks at entrepreneurship in Japan as a way and space to find and create meaning and belonging for members of a generation deeply affected by socioeconomic and demographic changes. Individuals introduced in this paper experience life in a neo-liberal context marked by precarization and common feeling of anomie, yet show resiliency and aspiration by actively carving out new spaces for themselves and others. Using Japan as example, this paper discusses how social innovation and entrepreneurship is not only a way to produce new ideas and structures (Scott, 2007) but also the process of re-contextualization or restructuring public life, justice, equity and social norms (Nicholls & Murdock 2012). Telling the stories of entrepreneurs, start-up founders and young business owners in Japan, this paper highlights accounts of shaping new spaces to belong through self-employment that often build onto or aim toward fostering cross-border connections, social integration and gender equality. Key questions discussed include how startups, social enterprises or NPOs become productive spaces for individuals that may serve as ibasho or ‘places to feel at home’; how incubators and online platforms craft common spaces that allow new forms of belonging and how these life choices reflect onto concepts of family.