Caught Between Culture, Society, and Globalization: Youth Marginalization in Post-industrial Japan



In this article, we review the controversies regarding how representative Japanese psychological patterns are of an interdependent orientation and discuss understanding these controversies in the context of seeing Japanese youth as being marginalized in their own society. We review specific studies on shifting values and motivational patterns at the individual level and incorporate a sociological perspective to understand the causes of these patterns at the social-structural level. We argue that traditional cultural practices are maintained to protect the senior elites of Japan at a cost of increasing the rift between culture, society, and post-industrial trends. The unsustainability of this rift then ends up asymmetrically marginalizing Japanese youth who bear the brunt of the cost of institutional resistance to globalization pressures. Therefore, the “demotivation” and psychological distancing from interdependent norms among marginalized Japanese youth are not the causes of marginalization, but rather, are an outcome of it. Thus, we argue that psychology of globalization and the psychology of marginalization can go hand-in-hand, especially for societies with dominant institutions that are interdependent, relatively inflexible, seniority-based, and are entering a post-industrial economy due to globalization demands.