Culture, Gender, and Work in Japan: A Case Study of a Woman in Management

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Abstract

This article analyzes the conflicts experienced at work by Keiko Nakagawa, a Japanese female manager at a U.S. company in Tokyo. It uses a cultural models-in-practiceframework to explore the role that Keiko's ideas about gender and work played in causing both the social conflicts she faced with her subordinates and the inner conflicts she experienced later.The article demonstrates that even if an individual can reconcile contradictory beliefs for herself her subject-position in a particular social situation—in Keiko's case, as a Japanese female manager in Japan—may prevent her from successfully avoiding conflict. It suggests that cultural models play an imporant role in engendering conflict by obscuring the complexities of everyday life, and that psychological anthropologists will be able to shed some light on this phenomenon by studying how people put such models into practice in the context of social interaction.

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