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The Wages of Affluence: Labor and Management in Postwar Japan

The Wages of Affluence: Labor and Management in Postwar Japan

by Andrew Gordon


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Andrew Gordon goes to the core of the Japanese enterprise system, the workplace, and reveals a complex history of contest and confrontation. The Japanese model produced a dynamic economy which owed as much to coercion as to happy consensus. Managerial hegemony was achieved only after a bitter struggle that undermined the democratic potential of postwar society. The book draws on examples across Japanese industry, but focuses in depth on iron and steel. This industry was at the center of the country's economic recovery and high-speed growth, a primary site of corporate managerial strategy and important labor union initiatives.

Beginning with the Occupation reforms and their influence on the workplace, Gordon traces worker activism and protest in the 1950s and '60s, and how they gave way to management victory in the 1960s and '70s. He shows how working people had to compromise institutions of self-determination in pursuit of economic affluence. He illuminates the Japanese system with frequent references to other capitalist nations whose workplaces assumed very different shape, and looks to Japan's future, rebutting hasty predictions that Japanese industrial relations are about to be dramatically transformed in the American free-market image. Gordon argues that it is more likely that Japan will only modestly adjust the status quo that emerged through the turbulent postwar decades he chronicles here.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674007062
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/15/2001
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.69(w) x 8.94(h) x (d)

About the Author

Andrew Gordon is Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.

Table of Contents


Japan Reborn

Organizing the Steelworkers

Restoring Managerial and State Authority

Reinventing the Steel Mill

Forging an Activist Union

Breaking the Impasse

Fabricating the Politics of Cooperation

Mobilizing Total Commitment

Managing Society for Business

Japan's Third Way

Appendix: Figures


Works Cited


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