The Fading of the Ie in Corporate Japan

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The Japanese culture has allowed for very little diversity. This started very early in their history. The social controls used to eliminate diversity are the family, the power of gender, the poor treatment of minority groups, the corporate Japanese mentality, and the respect required by the people in authority. However, due to the globalization and the shrinking of the world, Japanese society is starting to make the change to diversity. The individualistic mentality shared by the new technology driven younger generation is putting pressure on the old Japanese system. The transformation is happening very slow, but as the population ages and the old conservatives are being replaced by the new liberals, the old way of thinking is also being replaced by the new.

The traditional family system known as the ie is used as a model for the large Japanese corporations. The family is very important to the Japanese. Japan has seen the nuclear family replace the extended family as the dominant form of family life. In premodern Japan, the extended family was not a large kinship group consisting of all or most family members living together. Rather, the Japanese extended family consisted of the main family and separate branch families. Nowadays, the nuclear family, consisting of the parents and their children with, on occasion, one or two grandparents is the most common type in Japan. As it applies to the Japanese extended family, the ie system refers to a lineal up and down structure, with the main family at the top and the various branch families arranged downward.

In the ie, continuity of the main family is very important. Special privilege is given to the eldest son so that one day he would become successor of the family. Also, just as in the rest of Japanese culture and other cultures, the elderly are respected by the younger. The ie system fostered sexual discrimination and status distinctions both within and between families. The highest status went...
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