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  • Family Trouble: Views from the Stage and a Merchant Archive

    Mary Elizabeth Berry

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


    This essay explores the formation of stem families among merchants, a puzzling development since the economic incentives that abetted the choice among other constituencies in Tokugawa Japan are hardly transparent for them. On the basis of major manuscripts from the mega-merchant house of Mitsui as well as a celebrated stage play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the essay identifies the leadership of commercial family heads as a paramount concern. And it links this concern to a profound investment in the household continuity that, dependent on sound leadership, became the essential source of trust in a market economy lacking legal guarantees of property, contract, and judicial access.

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    Berry, M. 2019. Family Trouble: Views from the Stage and a Merchant Archive. In: Berry M. & Yonemoto M (eds.), What Is a Family?. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.77.j

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    Published on Sept. 17, 2019


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