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Japanese families living temporarily in four areas of North America: Traditionalism and adaptation. (Text)

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  • Traditional Japanese culture is affected by the increasing numbers of Japanese sojourners in North America. Additionally, a permanent sojourner community is developing which contains elements of traditional Japanese culture as well as North American influences. The present ethnographic study investigated Japanese families living temporarily in North America and their relationships with each other and with North Americans. Methodology included interviews, observations, and participant observations in places of business, homes, schools, and social settings. Attitudes and behaviors were identified and classified, indicating patterns in behaviors as well as relationships between interdependent behaviors. The primary sample included 22 businessmen, 27 women, and 43 children. Group interviews were held with additional people. The men in the sample work in Japanese, American, or Canadian offices; the women center their lives around their homes but also go beyond the home, and the children attend public and private North American schools supplemented, in most cases, by Japanese Saturday school, or full-time Japanese school. Ease of adaptation among adults is related partly to prior experience abroad. Among women, those with education or training to prepa re them for a career adapt most easily. Among children, adaptation is easiest for younger children and for those who attend school with a few other Japanese students, but not many. In general, junior high students are more apt to experience social problems. They and very traditional women are the loneliest sojourners. Japanese community life is affected by interactions among sojourners themselves and between sojourners and surrounding North American communities. A range of adaptation appears among sojourners, from maintenance of traditionalism to acculturation. Marginality has a different meaning for these high-status sojourners than it does for other migrant and immigrant groups because, rather than being excluded by the majority society, many choose to participate mainly in Japanese institutions. Those who become bicultural may express a preference for living in North America where they are freer to behave in both Japanese and American or Canadian ways than they are in Japan. The question of how North American society is affected by the presence of a high-status foreign non-immigrant population is discussed briefly.
  • 2006-08-11
  • English
  • ksl:etd-1055276842
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