A Comparative Analysis of Familialist Modernisation and Gender Inequality: Turkey and Japan


Kadın/Woman 2000 - Kadın Araştırmaları Dergisi, vol.20, no.1, pp.101-122, 2019 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier


Turkey and Japan are among the lowest-ranked countries in variousgender gap indexes despite their economic achievement. To understandthe phenomena, this study explores a question how the experiences ofTurkey and Japan converge and diverge in the early struggles formodernisation and a new gender order through an interpretivecomparative historical analysis. This study shows that notwithstandinggeographical distance, cultural variances and different courses ofindustrialisation, Turkey and Japan have a number of common historicalbackgrounds which makes a comparative study interesting. Both countriesplayed a leading role in its region in terms of modernisation,industrialisation and women’s emancipation between the late 19thcentury and the early 20th century. Yet in both countries women wereemancipated but unliberated; they gained civil rights but theirempowerment was controlled judicially and ideologically. The twocountries also share a socio-demographically similar experience of “semicompressed modernity” which made them opt for familialism as a welfare model today. This familialism is both part of their neoliberalisationprogramme of social policy and their self-Orientalist response to globalcapitalist economy. This study argues that it is questionable if familialismsecures the family. It is also questionable if women’s labour forceparticipation in flexible employment contributes gender equality. Apartfrom the similarities in state policies, Turkey’s experience diverts fromthat of Japan. One of the most significant variances is that more womenin Turkey tend to postpone labour force participation rather thanchildbirth while it is the opposite in case of Japan. In face ofneoliberalising global economy, both Turkey and Japan have carried outdrastic reforms since the 1980s yet again without liberating women.