Standing Up To Culture

Standing Up To Culture

By Daniel Yankelovich


IN a changing world, Japan and the United States face similar challenges even though our histories and cultures are very different. In both nations, the influence of tradition and culture is wearing thin while individual choice grows stronger. This places a heavy burden of responsibility on the individual, more than most people are comfortable with.

In late September, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe wrote an editorial in The Wall Street Journal 1, titled “Unleashing the Power of Womenomics.” He out- lined a series of policies for which the dual purpose is to boost women in the workforce significantly and thereby also raise fertility rates.

Prime Minister Abe is well aware that combining these two goals runs counter to the long-held belief that female participation in the labor force lowers fertility rates. He cites a number of government policies that would make his twin goals compatible. These include: expanded day-care and nursing-care services, flexible work arrangements and better pay for women.

文化への抵抗
ダニエル・ヤンケロビッチ

この変化の時代にあって、日本と米国は、歴史的文 化的背景が大いに異なるとはいえ、似たような問

題 に直面している。日米のいずれでも、伝統と文 化がすたれつつある一方で、個人の選択が優先されるよ うになっている。この流れにより、多くの人が望む以上 に個人に重い責任がのしかかっている。 この秋、ウォール・ストリート・ジャーナル紙に安部 晋三首相の寄稿があった。タイトルは「安部総理、ウィ メノミクスのパワーを解き放つ」。女性の雇用を大幅に増 やし出生率上昇を促す一連の政策をまとめたものだ。

この2つの目標を掲 げることが、女性の雇用増は出生率 を下げるという長く正しいとされてきた論理に反するこ とを、安部首相は十分承知している。そのうえで彼は、 この2つの目標を両立させるための多くの政策に言及し ている。デイケアや介護サービスの拡大、柔軟な就労形態、 女性の賃金増などである。

Standing Up To Culture

By Daniel Yankelovich


IN a changing world, Japan and the United States face similar challenges even though our histories and cultures are very different. In both nations, the influence of tradition and culture is wearing thin while individual choice grows stronger. This places a heavy burden of responsibility on the individual, more than most people are comfortable with.

In late September, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe wrote an editorial in The Wall Street Journal 1, titled “Unleashing the Power of Womenomics.” He out- lined a series of policies for which the dual purpose is to boost women in the workforce significantly and thereby also raise fertility rates.

Prime Minister Abe is well aware that combining these two goals runs counter to the long-held belief that female participation in the labor force lowers fertility rates. He cites a number of government policies that would make his twin goals compatible. These include: expanded day-care and nursing-care services, flexible work arrangements and better pay for women.

It is not unusual for a political leader to assume that government policies have the power to change cultural norms, even when these have prevailed for millennia. Unfortunately, we know remarkably little about how to change culture. This is not surprising given that our cultures are repositories of wisdom about how people should behave that have accumulated for over 150,000 years since the advent of language. It takes a lot of hubris to pit our paltry eight or so decades of individual experience against this weight of tradition.

My judgment as a social scientist is that government policies by themselves, no matter how well designed and implemented, will not achieve the goal of stimulating fertility rates by increasing female participation in the labor force. Something additional is needed.

That something is a matter of culture. The culture must impart to young Japanese men and women a powerful sense of agency and self-confidence. The culture must encourage men to become far more cooperative as husbands and fathers and to assume tasks long associated with the woman’s role. The culture must help women to develop a high level of self-confidence in taking on themselves what the culture has assumed to be two full-time – and incompatible jobs: nurturing children and working outside the home.

These vast changes in the national psyche will require at least several generations of risky experiments in marriage, work and family life, many of which will inevitably end badly. This is not a reason to hold back, but it is a reason to proceed with care and to learn what does or doesn’t work through trial and error.

I believe that Abe is right to identify himself with the powerful cross-cultural social trend he calls “Womenomics”, but that he is unrealistic in thinking that government policy by itself can make it happen.

Americans struggle with similar conflicting goals. Our culture changes more unpredictably than Japan’s. But we also understand little about how to bring about shifts in cultural norms for activities that we approve. tj



文化への抵抗
ダニエル・ヤンケロビッチ

この変化の時代にあって、日本と米国は、歴史的文 化的背景が大いに異なるとはいえ、似たような問

題 に直面している。日米のいずれでも、伝統と文 化がすたれつつある一方で、個人の選択が優先されるよ うになっている。この流れにより、多くの人が望む以上 に個人に重い責任がのしかかっている。 この秋、ウォール・ストリート・ジャーナル紙に安部 晋三首相の寄稿があった。タイトルは「安部総理、ウィ メノミクスのパワーを解き放つ」。女性の雇用を大幅に増 やし出生率上昇を促す一連の政策をまとめたものだ。

この2つの目標を掲 げることが、女性の雇用増は出生率 を下げるという長く正しいとされてきた論理に反するこ とを、安部首相は十分承知している。そのうえで彼は、 この2つの目標を両立させるための多くの政策に言及し ている。デイケアや介護サービスの拡大、柔軟な就労形態、 女性の賃金増などである。

たとえ何千年も続く文化的規範であっても、政府の政 策がそれを変える力を持つと政権トップが主張するのは 珍しいことではない。残念なことに、我々は文化の変え
方を知らない。言語の発明以来15 万年以上にもわたっ て人びとが蓄積してきた知識が文化であることを考えれ
ば、それは驚くにはあたらない。この伝統の重みに対して、 たかだか80 年やそこらの取るに足りない個人の経験を持
ち出すのは、とんでもないごう慢でしかない。


私は社会科学者として、政府の政策がいかに綿密に練ら れ実行されたとしても、女性の雇用を増加させると同時
に出生率を高めるという目標は達成しえないと判断せざ るを得ない。そこには別の要因が必要だ。


 文化そのものが関わる。すなわち、日本の若者に行為 主体性と自信を強く意識させる文化。夫/父として協力
を惜しまずに、長らく女性の役割とされてきた仕事を担 うことを男性に促す文化。両立できないとされてきた育
児と外での仕事を自ら引き受ける自信を持つよう女性を 支援する文化。


国家の精神がこのように大きく変化するためには、少 なくとも数世代にわたって、結婚、仕事、家族生活が避
けようもなく失敗に終わるかもしれない危険をはらむ実 験を経る必要があるだろう。だからといってそれを思い とどまるのでなく、慎重に実験を進め試行錯誤の中で何
が有効で何が有効でないかを見極めようと考えるべきだ。


安部首相が、「ウィメノミクス」という強力な文化社会的 な流れを主張するのは正しいと思うが、政策そのものが
それを実現すると考えるのは現実的ではないだろう。


 アメリカ人も同様の両立が困難な目標に挑んでいる。


我々の文化の変化は、日本の文化より予測が難しい。し かし我々も、我々が認める活動を促す方向へ文化的規範
を変える方法を知らない。tj

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Written By:

Daniel Yankelovich

Tokyo Journal columnist Daniel Yankelovich is a renowned social researcher and public opinion analyst who was born in 1924 in Boston, Massachusetts. He earned both his bachelor's degree (1946) and M.A.(1950) from Harvard University, and carried out post-graduate studies at the Sorbonne in Paris. He also holds honorary doctorates from Washington University and George Washington University largely for his work in the public sector.

He has served in the following roles: Founder, The New York Times/Yankelovich Poll now known as the New York Times/CBS Poll; Chairman, Educational Testing Service (ETS); Founding President, the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics; Trustee, Brown University; Trustee, The Kettering Foundation; Fellow, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Member, Council on Foreign Relations, and Director of a number of corporate boards, including CBS; USWEST; the Meredith Corporation; Loral Space and Communications; Diversified Energies and ARKLA.

He has taught as a Research Professor of Psychology at New York University, a Professor of Psychology in the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, and a Visiting Professor at the University of California at San Diego. He was named a Distinguished Scholar at the University of California at Irvine and served as a Senior Fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

In addition to authoring hundreds of articles and speeches, Daniel Yankelovich is the author, editor or co-author of twelve books, the most recent being Toward Wiser Public Judgment (Vanderbilt University Press, 2011). Others include Profit with Honor: The New Stage of Market Capitalism; The Magic of Dialogue; New Rules: Searching for Self-fulfillment in a World Turned Upside Down; Coming to Public Judgment; Ego and Instinct: The Psychoanalytic View of Human Nature-Revised; Beyond the Beltway: Engaging the Public in U.S. Foreign Policy; and Making Democracy Work in a Complex World, Starting with the People.

He is the recipient of The Parlin Award for his pioneering work in marketing research, the Dinerman Award of the World Association of Public Opinion Research and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the New York Chapter of the American Association of Public Opinion Research.



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