JAPANESE WOMEN RESIDENTS IN ENGLAND: A METHODOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL STUDY

THESIS SUMMARY

The thesis is a qualitative research project examining the lives of Japanese women who have lived in England long-term (defined as two or more years). It is based on oral history interviews with 16 Japanese women ranging in age from 26 to 51, and categorised into four groups: students, career women, women married to or divorced from British men, and company wives (women who accompany their Japanese husbands on company postings).

The methodological section is an exploration of the cultural and linguistic issues involved in carrying out a cross-cultural oral history project. Cultural factors examined include uchi/soto (inside/outside), tatemae/honne (public truth/private truth), and omote/ura (front/back knowledge). Linguistic issues covered include the advantages and disadvantages of interviewing in Japanese and in English, dialogue, mood, non-verbal communication, transcription and presentation. This section is an examination of what can be gained or lost through cross-cultural interviewing, and a consideration of how far Western methodologies can be applied to historical research with interviewees who are of Eastern origin.

The research findings section begins with profiles of the interviewees, examination of their socio-economic backgrounds, and analysis of their reasons for going abroad and for their choice of England as their destination. Subsequent chapters examine the views and experiences of the women in four areas: education, work, relationships, and the lives of the company wives in the expatriate community. The final two chapters analyse common themes: adaptation and alienation, discrimination, segregation, migration identities, status and internationalism

This is an interdisciplinary study dealing with aspects of gender, migration, oral history, and Japanese society.



Susan K Burton
University of Sussex