The status of marriage as an institution in modern sociology: A comparative study of Japan and Norway with a focus on gender equality.
This research looks into the modernization process of marriage and how it has been affected by the enhancement of gender equality, in the cases of Japan, in comparison with Norway. Japan and Norway were both gender unequal societies until 40 years ago. However, Norway has moved towards gender integrated social structure, while Japan has continued the gender separated arrangements. Modernization has given women more freedom, thus marriage becomes just an option. As marriage in Japan is not being altered with the change of women, the numbers of women who do not want to get married are rising. In 2005, the death rate surpassed the birth rate. This is alarming for the Japanese society’s future. People are too busy to be married, have children, and even to have sex. Further, as economy is getting more crucial, as divorce increases, marriage has become a risk. Meanwhile, risks in society, due to lack in welfare structures have caused a revival of the housewife. Thus, Japanese women are forced into a contradictory position, as they can work, but also have to seek security from men. In Norway, as the social system makes work and family compatible, women can stay independent. Therefore, even though the divorce rate is high, women are still positive to marriage. Comparing deep interviews of Japanese and Norwegian women, this thesis shows that they are not so different, but are conditioned to live differently, as equality has yet become a global standard.