Japanese Individualized Family as a Form of Risk Protection and Adaptation to Rural Life : Study Based on Analysis of Changing Meanings of Family in Shimane Prefecture
This article discusses “individualization within families” in a rural area by using the qualitative data from a case study in the hilly and mountainous areas of Shimane Prefecture. In most families in this case study, an individual's freedom was respected by the other family members. When “individualization within families” is defined as increasingly free discretion of each family member, such a tendency is often found. On the other hand, each family member considered the family group important. The data suggested that family group is regarded as a means of risk protection and adaptation to rural life, and each family member may have a sense of obligation to maintain the family group. This obligation is fulfilled by considering the freedom of other family members. To discuss the dynamics and a good balance between respecting individual freedom and maintaining the family group, this study found that additional studies of families in rural areas are necessary. Furthermore, this research adds to an understanding on the roles of family and individual in the context of changing Japanese society and different risks facing both the individuals and the whole way of life in rural areas.
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