The Material Child: Coming of Age in Japan and America

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9780029350355: The Material Child: Coming of Age in Japan and America

In "The Material Child" Merry White explores the world of the teenager in two significantly different modern societies, Japan and America. Drawing on the voices of adolescents themselves, she offers an in-depth look at the sexuality, school work, family relationships, leisure activities, friendships and buying behaviour of the young in both countries. Through her analysis, White shows that although adolescents in the US and Japan may share the same taste in pizza, pop music and leather jackets, they remain very different from each other. The Japanese teen, for example, is sexually sophisticated, but dependent and childish by American standards. In contrast, American teenagers are more independent and worldly on some fronts, but surprisingly ignorant sexually. The author also explores Japanese fears for their teens versus the US fear of their teens, showing how these contrasting anxieties developed and how they affect the behaviour of the adolescents themselves.

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Review:

"In this exemplary cross-cultural study of teenagers in the U.S. and Japan, White ("The Japanese Educational Challenge) zeros in on the critical differences and similarities in the way these groups are socialized, contending that conflicting social mores cause much of the current perplexity in the two countries' relations. While some of the material has surface familiarity, White's in-depth examination of each group's schooling, friendships, family relations, sexuality, search for identity and feelings about their own and each others' countries is newly revealing."--"Publishers Weekly

About the Author:

Merry White is Associate Professor of Sociology at Boston University and research associate at the Reischauer Institute, Harvard. She is the author of The Japanese Educational Challenge: A Commitment to Children (1987).

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