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Nightwork : sexuality, pleasure, and corporate masculinity in a Tokyo hostess club / Anne Allison

Main Author Allison, Anne, 1950- Country Estados Unidos. Publication Chicago : University of Chicago Press, cop. 1994 Description XIII, 213 p. ; 23 cm ISBN 0-226-01487-8 CDU 394(520)
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Monografia Biblioteca Fernão Mendes Pinto
BFMP-LCO 394(520) - A Perdido | Lost Indisponível | Not available 357575
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

In Nightwork , Anne Allison opens a window onto Japanese corporate culture and gender identities. Allison performed the ritualized tasks of a hostess in one of Tokyo's many "hostess clubs": pouring drinks, lighting cigarettes, and making flattering or titillating conversation with the businessmen who came there on company expense accounts. Her book critically examines how such establishments create bonds among white-collar men and forge a masculine identity that suits the needs of their corporations.

Allison describes in detail a typical company outing to such a club--what the men do, how they interact with the hostesses, the role the hostess is expected to play, and the extent to which all of this involves "play" rather than "work." Unlike previous books on Japanese nightlife, Allison's ethnography of one specific hostess club (here referred to as Bijo) views the general phenomenon from the eyes of a woman, hostess, and feminist anthropologist.

Observing that clubs like Bijo further a kind of masculinity dependent on the gestures and labors of women, Allison seeks to uncover connections between such behavior and other social, economic, sexual, and gendered relations. She argues that Japanese corporate nightlife enables and institutionalizes a particular form of ritualized male dominance: in paying for this entertainment, Japanese corporations not only give their male workers a self-image as phallic man, but also develop relationships to work that are unconditional and unbreakable. This is a book that will appeal to anyone interested in gender roles or in contemporary Japanese society.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgments
  • Prelude
  • Introduction
  • Pt. 1 Ethnography of a Hostess Club
  • Ch. 1 A Type of Place
  • Ch. 2 A Type of Routine
  • Ch. 3 A Type of Woman
  • Pt. 2 Mapping the Nightlife within Cultural Categories Introduction
  • Ch. 4 Social Place and Identity
  • Ch. 5 The Meaning and Place of Work: The Sarariiman
  • Ch. 6 Family and Home
  • Ch. 7 Structure of Japanese Play
  • Ch. 8 Male Play with Money, Women, and Sex
  • Pt. 3 Male Rituals and Masculinity Introduction
  • Ch. 9 Male Bonding
  • Ch. 10 The Mizu Shobai Woman: Constructing Dirtiness and Sex
  • Ch. 11 Impotence as a Sign and Symbol of the Sarariiman
  • References
  • Index

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Allison's very readable work is about hostess clubs--Japanese establishments whose service includes sexual talk between businessmen and hostesses. The author (Duke Univ.) compares businesses' justifications of their employees' use of these establishments ("opening up," relaxing, bonding with fellow workers) to the activities that really take place in them. Data came from three sources: observation and participation (the author worked in a Tokyo hostess club for four months); interviews with customers, employees, and researchers of sex, family, and gender issues; and a detailed literature review of Japanese writings. The monograph has three parts. The first, a careful description of what takes place in a hostess club, provides readers with an in-depth understanding of the interpersonal relationships found there. Allison summarizes the club's physical setting and social context and explains how hostesses differ from prostitutes. In the second part, she describes what men do in the club, focusing on such highly formulaic activities as drinking, singing, joking with each other, and speaking to and about the hostesses in a specialized language. Third, Allison examines the role and scope of the women's services and explains how that relates to the goals of businesses and businessmen. Upper-division undergraduate and up.

Booklist Review

A fascinating look at the Japanese hostess club culture, where businessmen go to "feel like a man." The clubs are lavish or glitzy, depending on their quality and cost, but the focus is always the same for the men: to be entertained, cajoled, and flirted with by a young, attractive woman. Sex? Not necessarily. While flirting is open and expected, and intimate touching is not unknown, the purpose of these clubs is to offer an atmosphere where masculinity is "collectively realized and ritualized." Allison argues that this activity reinforces certain ideas of male dominance which so define the Japanese corporate world. Scholarly but never pedantic, the book is further bolstered by the author's own experience as a hostess. A penetrating look at a slice of Japanese business life. (Reviewed Mar. 15, 1994)0226014851Brian McCombie

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