Organized Panel Session
Salaryman (white-collar worker) culture in Japan was as much about consumption as it was about labor. Scholars of Japanese salarymen have primarily focused on workplace socialization, representations of salaryman masculinity, family dynamics, labor issues, and social problems such as mental illness or alcoholism. In both Japanese and English, few analysts have studied the vibrant consumer culture of salarymen in the twentieth century. The panelists will grapple with salarymen’s identities as consumers and the mass media’s role in the production of masculine consumer cultures. This approach provides a valuable window into the history of the Japanese middle-class, which scholars have until now examined with the assumption that consumerism was primarily the purview of women. Each presenter will take on a different segment of the media world between the 1940s and 1980s, from handbills and advertisements to films and magazines. Through a combination of methods, including the history of advertising, the history of leisure, and literature and film studies, the panelists will examine the complex interplay between the economic expectations of consumers and publisher tactics. Panelists will unpack the ways in which American culture crept into Japan, the complexity of gendered representations of Japanese men in media culture, and the relationship between lived experience and media representation. Panelists will argue that the media world re-imagined consumer life for working men in response to the ebbs and flows of the Japanese economy.