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Keywords:

  • Japanese family studies;
  • modern family;
  • cultural analysis

Under the influence of the “new history of the family” of the past few decades, a revisionist view of the “modern family” has emerged among family theorists in Japan. In spite of the significant merits of this new paradigm, I have argued that the failure of its proponents to address certain theoretical and presuppositional issues has discouraged a cultural analysis of the modern family. In recent years, one of the foremost theorists to attempt to bring cultural analysis fully into sociological discourse has been Jeffrey Alexander. I have drawn extensively on Alexander's discussion of Durkheim's later thought as the key to a cultural program in the field of sociology. In doing so, I have suggested that one effect of the transition to modern society is the sacralization of what Durkheim termed the “domestic order”. Furthermore, in considering the mechanism by which the central emotional axis of the family comes to revolve around either the parent–child bond or the conjugal bond, I have postulated the existence of a “sacred” dyad—in the Durkheimian sense—within the family unit.