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Matsunaga, Louella (1995) Working in a chain store : An ethnography of a Japanese company. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a study of "Futajimaya", a large chain store in suburban Tokyo, based on fieldwork conducted as a part-time employee at the store over a period of one year in 1990-91. This study aims to critically re-assess and deconstruct the view of Japanese companies as homogeneous, vertically structured groups characterised by harmony and consensus. Rather, a range of different representations of company-employee relations is shown to exist within the frame of a single large enterprise. Gender and generation are important themes, and the role of the company in mediating the transition to adulthood for its new recruits is examined, as is the importance of employment in the achievement of mature, gendered identities for both male and female employees. The thesis is structured with reference to the culturally significant categories of soto (outside) and uchi (inside), and traces the shifts in the way Japanese companies are represented according to context. It begins with the outside view as found in texts written for a foreign audience about Japanese companies in general, moving through a consideration of the ways in which three retail companies seek to represent themselves to that section of their domestic audience which furnishes their potential recruits, to an examination of the varying ways in which Futajimaya is viewed by its employees. Notions of harmony and conflict within the company are also examined, and the conclusion discusses the implications of this research for more general debates on outsider versus insider discourse and notions of formalisation and power.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:58

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