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Building up Steam as Consumers: Women, Rice Cookers and the Consumption of Everyday Household Goods in Japan

Macnaughtan, Helen (2012) 'Building up Steam as Consumers: Women, Rice Cookers and the Consumption of Everyday Household Goods in Japan.' In: Francks, Penelope and Hunter, Janet, (eds.), The Historical Consumer: Consumption and Everyday Life in Japan, 1850-2000. Palgrave Macmillan.

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Abstract

This chapter discusses the increasingly important role played by women as everyday consumers in post-war Japan, focusing on their consumption of household and kitchen appliances, specifically the electric rice cooker. Two key areas are explored. First, I investigate the development, production and consumption of this appliance. The electric rice cooker was developed by Japanese manufacturers from the mid-1950s, and was at the time unique to the Japanese manufacturing sector and the Japanese consumer market. It rapidly achieved significance in both domestic and export markets.1 The analysis will focus on the rice cooker’s development and impact in the Japanese market during the post-war years as a key example of the importance of everyday household appliances in the history of gender and consumption in Japan, impacting on women’s roles inside and outside the home. The chapter will show that although the rice cooker was in many ways a humble product, it had a revolutionary impact on Japanese women’s primary role as housewives. Second, the chapter places the case-study of the rice cooker within a broader context, discussing the role played by Japanese women as key consumers of appliances and as a gendered consumer group. It will explore the significance of housewives as a consumer group in Japan during the post-war decades, the associated gendering of consumer practices, and the extent to which housewives, as the holders of the purse-strings within the Japanese nuclear household, were empowered by the establishment of the breadwinner-homemaker model.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Financial and Management Studies
ISBN: 9780230273665
Depositing User: Helen Macnaughtan
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2013 13:28
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/15879

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