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VOLUME 2 (2000), ISSUE 4  (WINTER)






There have been debates on how the responsibility of caring for vulnerable people such as the elderly and disabled should be shared between respectively family members and caring professionals. Many studies have been conducted exploring by whom people prefer to be cared for when they need it. These studies have shown that gender and socioeconomic status differences influence preferences for personal care : more women than men and more people in higher socioeconomic strata than those in lower strata prefer care by professionals.

However, these studies have not examined the cross effects of gender and socioeconomic status. The aim of this article is to reveal which forms of personal care women and men in higher and lower socioeconomic strata in today's Japan prefer for themselves. The result of the analysis shows that more men in higher strata are likely to prefer care by the primary family, that more women in higher strata prefer care by professionals ; and men and women in lower strata prefer care by the extended kin.

So far, the idea that vulnerable people should be cared for by their families has been a dominant ideology in modern Japan ; the preference that men in higher strata have for care by the family is consistent with this dominant ideology. In addition, it can be anticipated that more rich women will employ less affluent women as home helps, a phenomenon that had disappeared in post-war Japan but that is currently reemerging.


Care - Gender - Socioeconomic Status - Japan


Reiko YAMATO is an Associate Professor at Kansai University, Japan. Her major area is the sociology of family and gender.


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