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Women's identity formation and transformation in contemporary Japan: a gendered approach to faith-based volunteering

Cavaliere, Paola (2012) Women's identity formation and transformation in contemporary Japan: a gendered approach to faith-based volunteering. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This dissertation explores the extent to which women's everyday interaction and agency in faith-based volunteering helps in cultivating social stewardship and articulating new trajectories of self in Japanese society at large. The project is guided by the idea that social work sponsored by religious organizations provides women with a non-institutional channel through which they can become active civic actors in the social contract by locating themselves between the market and the state. The research draws upon a survey conducted in Japan between October 2009 and February 2010 on five faith-based volunteer groups: two Shinnyoen-sponsored groups; two Rissho Koseikai-sponsored groups; and one Catholic group. By making an eclectic use of social constructivist theories of identity, practice and performativity, this study examines the micro-social constitutive normative and generative aspects through which women move toward different trajectories of self. The analyses highlight that women engaged in faith-based volunteering tend to use their religious identity strategically and loosen it in a process of self and social reflexivity that fosters further social engagement. This makes their belonging to a religious group a resource for broader meaningful images of the self beyond religious ideological normative or structural regulative logics. By reporting the life-stories of women engaged in faith-based volunteering, this dissertation aims to provide examples of the kind of trajectories and empowering or disempowering practices generated in the cultural context of the Japanese faith-based volunteer group. The research demonstrates conclusively that it is not the presence (or absence) of religiosity that makes a critical difference, but how women exploit their institutional and non-institutional - the faith-based group - channels to generate or inhibit everyday practices that can serve to ameliorate their lives. The approach is especially important in view of women's larger engagement in society, thus in terms of empowerment and democratization.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of East Asian Studies (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Paola Cavaliere
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2012 10:15
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2172

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