2021 Volume 73 Issue 4 Pages 419-443
Utilizing a set of archival data, this paper describes the status of home-workers and the enactment of administration for home-work, focusing on Kanagawa Prefecture around 1980. The postwar Japanese administration for home-work centers on intermediation between businesses and home-workers, and intends to exclude malicious outsourcers and protect home-workers from exploitation. Simultaneously, organizing home-workers and the provision of job training are deemed to enhance the condition of home-workers. However, structural instability and underpayment of home-workers have remained untouched. Some women perform home-work as a hobby-cum-benefit. A confounding and unexpected result is that handicraft-like home-work, such as embroidering or knitting, which pays wages that are obviously too low for their meticulous practice, has survived, even in the declining phase of home-work. The latter section utilizes the previously unexamined records of consultation for home-workers and examines their condition, the administration of intermediation between outsourcers and home-workers, and the relationship between a consultant and home-workers in Kawasaki city around 1980. Many would-be home-workers were wives of low-income households and tended to obtain relatively well-paid machine-sewing or fabrication home-work. The consultant considered home-workers’ wishes and circumstances, stood in their shoes, and made frequent contact with them after the intermediation. However, within a short period of time many home-workers quit home-work; complaining of the difficulty of the operation itself, the double bind between managing work and childcare, disagreement with family members (mostly the husband), health problems, and other issues.