Kodo Keiryogaku (The Japanese Journal of Behaviormetrics)
Online ISSN : 1880-4705
Print ISSN : 0385-5481
ISSN-L : 0385-5481
Social Stratification and Class Consciousness in Postwar Japan
Changes in the SSM Survey 1955-1995
Junsuke HARA
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1997 Volume 24 Issue 1 Pages 11-19

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Abstract

A history of postwar Japan in the aspect of social stratification or social inequality is presented by the data from the National Survey of Social Stratificaion and Social Mobility, called as “the SSM survey” in Japan, conducted in 1955, 1965, 1975, 1985, and 1995. Just after the defeat of World War II in 1945, nearly about 50% of Japanese workers were engaged in farming and kindred occupations such as fishing and forestry. However, in the following 50 years, Japanese society has accomplished industrialization and already arrived at post-industrial stage. Also, the “affluent” society was realized through the high economic growth in 1960s and 1970s. Changes in inequality in possession of social resources and opportunities and in class consciousness from 1955 to 1995 are examined. Contrary to the self-image by the people, Japanese society did not become equal at least in economic or social spheres. There appears tendency toward expansion of inequality and immobility of social stratification since latter half of 1970s.
However, class consciousness did not show corresponding change. Regarding those inequality and class consicousness, two turning points of Japanese society may be pointed out. One is the time of “the oil crisis” in 1973-74, and the other is the latter half of 1980s and 1990s, the period of low or stable economic growth. Changes at those turning points and their meanings are presented.

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