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  • Introduction

    Mary Elizabeth Berry, Marcia Yonemoto

    Chapter from the book: Berry M. & Yonemoto M. 2019. What Is a Family?: Answers from Early Modern Japan.


    Over the past two decades, new studies on demography, status, law, literacy, and gender have significantly changed our understanding of early modern Japanese society. And yet, there has been no recent study in English focused on what is arguably the key social institution of the time—the family. The essays assembled here help to right the balance by exploring a variety of family histories, each of them discrete, from early modern Japan. Together the essays challenge the dominant postwar narratives, epitomized in the social-scientific scholarship of the1970s and 1980s, which tend to see the family in structuralist and nationalist terms as the foundation for Japanese insularity, social and political stability, and economic success. This collection, in contrast, envisions the family less as a fixed institution or ideological construct than a process—one responsive to individual circumstances, subject to contestation, and marked by diversity across time and space.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Berry M. & Yonemoto M. 2019. Introduction. In: Berry M. & Yonemoto M (eds.), What Is a Family?. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.77.a

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    Additional Information

    Published on Sept. 17, 2019


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