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Focus 5a+6: Gender Dynamics in contemporary Japanese society I


Admission requirements

Students should normally have followed at least one Japanese studies BA2 focus course in Sociology or a related discipline. For students outside of the Japanese program, some background in anthropology or sociology as well as knowledge of Japanese history is useful but not required.


Gender structures the lives of women and men in all societies, yet varies in shape and dynamics. In this course, we will explore the dynamics of gender in modern Japan, from the Meiji period to the present. Going beyond women as the primary focus of gender studies, readings will explore the structures, processes and practices, which contribute to gender difference and its reproduction in the economy, society, and the state. Themes may include gender and family relations in premodern and early modern Japan, the rise of the good wife, wise mother ideology in early twentieth century Japan, state regulation of reproduction and sexuality, the emergence of the New Middle Class and salaryman in postwar Japan, as well as contemporary issues, such as gender inequality in the work place, the delay in marriage and child birth and marginal masculinities.

Course objectives

The goal of this course is not only to become familiar with key issues in the study of gender in Japan, but also to examine different conceptualizations of gender. Students will receive guideance on how to conduct independent research on a topic of choice and learn to write and present on a gender aspect of contemporary Japanese society in a scholarly fashion in preparation for their BA thesis.


See timetable

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Participation element (attendance, presentation) 30%

  • Review element (Review essay 1,000-1,500 words): 20%

  • research paper (2,500-3,000 words): 30%;

  • Summative element (take-home essay 1,500 words): 20%


Blackboard plays an essential part in this course. All important information about the course, including the syllabus, course requirements, and other information, except for the course readings, will be available on the course website. As part of class participation, students will also be required to make weekly postings on the Blackboard website. Internet access is therefore essential in order to complete this course.

Reading list

To be announced.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

Dr. A. Ezawa