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Representations of Parenting and Gender Roles in the Shōshika Era: Comparisons of Japanese and English-Language Parenting Magazines

Keywords: gender , parenting , media , child rearing , Japan

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This article examines how Japanese parenting magazines portray parenting and gender roles in the shōshika era, an era of sustained decline in the Japanese birth-rate. Recent surveys indicate that Japanese society remains ambivalent about the need for fathers to be involved in child rearing. This article examines why these attitudes and ideas persist and how the Japanese media, specifically Japanese parenting magazines, may contribute to perpetuating traditional attitudes towards parenting roles. The article explores how parenting is represented in text and visual elements of contemporary popular parenting magazines, with comparisons made between the distinct approaches of selected Japanese and English-language parenting magazines. The findings indicate that narrow and stereotypical representations of mothers and fathers remain common in the Japanese parenting magazines. The findings also highlight the lack of visibility of the social context within which parenting occurs, with parenting represented as a largely individual-level experience. In contrast, the English-language parenting magazines depict a more diverse range of social issues of relevance to parenting, a more diverse range of family structures, and greater involvement of fathers in parenting compared to Japanese parenting magazines.


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