Susanne KlienOct 6, 2021
Urban Migrants in Rural Japan
Between Agency and Anomie in a Post-growth Society
SUNY Press 2020
Susanne Klien's book Urban Migrants in Rural Japan: Between Agency and Anomie in a Post-growth Society (SUNY Press, 2020) provides a fresh perspective on theoretical notions of rurality and emerging modes of working and living in post-growth Japan. By exploring narratives and trajectories of individuals who relocate from urban to rural areas and seek new modes of working and living, this multi-sited ethnography reveals the changing role of rurality, from postwar notions of a stagnant backwater to contemporary sites of experimentation. The individual cases presented in the book vividly illustrate changing lifestyles and perceptions of work. What emerges from Urban Migrants in Rural Japan is the emotionally fraught quest of many individuals for a personally fulfilling lifestyle and the conflicting neoliberal constraints many settlers face. In fact, flexibility often coincides with precarity and self-exploitation. Klien shows how mobility serves as a strategic mechanism for neophytes in rural Japan who hedge their bets; gain time; and seek assurance, inspiration, and courage to do (or further postpone doing) what they ultimately feel makes sense to them.
John W. Traphagan, Ph.D. is Professor and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations.