Art & Design

How Family Norms are Reinforced across Generations in Japan: The Case of Single Mothers and Their Parents

15 February 2011, London

This lecture will investigate the relationship between marriage and childbearing in contemporary Japan. Family studies in the industrialised world in the post-war period have come to see the dissociation of marriage and childbearing as a virtually unavoidable consequence of industrialisation, modernisation and the concurrent change in social mores. Yet there is one industrialised country where almost all children are born within marriages, although this country underwent most of the social and economic changes, and many of the normative changes, to which the growth of illegitimacy in the West is so often attributed. This country is Japan.

The speaker will explore the generational gap in perceptions about illegitimacy in Japan and how premaritally pregnant women are treated by their natal families and society at large. She will reflect on both changes and continuities in contemporary Japanese families and the tough choices that young women face who choose to have children without getting married. In her conclusion Dr Hertog will speculate about Japan within the context of other post-war industrialised societies and will discuss the factors that are likely to contribute to differing patterns of behaviour.

Ekaterina Hertog is a Career Development Fellow in the Sociology of Japan at the University of Oxford where she teaches in the areas of sociological theory, modern Japanese society and research methods. She earned her doctoral degree in sociology from the University of Oxford. Her main research interests lie in the field of family sociology. She has recently completed a research project on Japanese unwed mothers which has resulted in several articles and a book, ‘Tough Choices: Bearing an Illegitimate Child in Contemporary Japan’, published by Stanford University Press in 2009. She is now working on a new, mixed-methods research project on the Japanese marriage market based on data from large marriage agencies. The objective of this study is to provide a better understanding of how people select long-term marriage partners in contemporary Japan.

The Daiwa Japan Forum Prize was inaugurated in 2001 and is awarded for the best article submitted to ‘Japan Forum’ in the last year by a junior scholar. The official journal of the British Association for Japanese Studies, ‘Japan Forum’ provides a comprehensive source of analytical articles in the field of Japanese Studies, and makes scholarship on Japan available to an international readership of specialists and non-specialists. It is published by Routledge.


Free but booking is essential at

15 February 2011, 3pm - 4pm
Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13 - 14 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QP. Nearest tube: Baker Street

Tel:020 7486 4348

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation