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Changing Gender Orders and Diversity in Comparative Perspective: Growing Flexibility of Work and Life Strategies

In most postindustrial societies, we presently experience a transformation from a gender order based on difference to a more flexible one. In the sphere of production, we witness a highly increased women’s labor market participation, based on the support of equal opportunity and diversity schemes. However, a large part of female employees are working in irregular or precarious jobs, and this trend is extending to male wage earners. In the sphere of reproduction, fathers are seeking opportunities for stronger participation, for example through child care leave. Institutional rules are getting more flexible against the backdrop of economization and growing insecurity. Moreover, biological dualism in the concept of gender is changing towards diverse gender concepts and supporting individual life careers. Our speaker, Ilse Lenz, will compare the two conservative gender welfare regimes of Germany and Japan by examining convergences and differences and discuss the main characteristics and the scale of these transformations. She is professor emeritus of sociology, in particular focusing on social structure and gender, at RUB. Professor Lenz has extensively published on topics such as globalization, work and gender as well as on women’s movements and social change in the global context. She has also spent several research stays in Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. The presentation will be followed by a comment from Glenda S. Roberts, Professor at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies of Waseda University. Her major areas of research are gender, work, family, and migration policy in contemporary Japan. Her most recent family research is found in her co-edited volume with Satsuki Kawano and Susan Long, Capturing Contemporary Japan: Differentiation and Uncertainty, from University of Hawai‘i Press in 2014, as well as, forthcoming in October 2016 from the East-West Center, Japan’s Evolving Family: voices from young urban adults navigating change.



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