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Since its early days of mass production in the 1850s, the sewing machine has been intricately connected with the global development of capitalism. Andrew Gordon traces the machine's remarkable journey into and throughout Japan, where it not only transformed manners of dress, but also helped change patterns of daily life, class structure, and the role of women. As he explores the selling, buying, and use of the sewing machine in the early to mid-twentieth century, Gordon finds that its history is a lens through which we can examine the modern transformation of daily life in Japan. Both as a tool of production and as an object of consumer desire, the sewing machine is entwined with the emergence and ascendance of the middle class, of the female consumer, and of the professional home manager as defining elements of Japanese modernity.
Gordon (history and Japanese studies, Harvard U.) begins his history in about 1800, looking at how particularly the industrial revolution had changed the balance of global economic and military power, and the pressures that caused the Tokugawa military lords to fall from power. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Japan's catapult to world economic power has inspired many studies by social scientists, but few have looked at the 45 years of postwar Japan through the lens of history. The contributors to this book seek to offer such a view. As they examine three related themes of postwar history, the authors describe an ongoing historical process marked by unexpected changes, such as Japan's extraordinary economic growth, and unanticipated continuities, such as the endurance of conservative rule. A provocative set of interpretative essays by eminent scholars, this book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of twentieth-century Japan and the dilemmas facing Japan today.
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