RESEARCH - Research Profile
I’m passionate about research and its potential to improve others’ lives and I enjoy collaborating to combine complementary perspectives, knowledge, methodological capabilities, and personal backgrounds and temperaments, to produce high quality research. I count myself lucky because working as an academic offers me freedom to follow my curiosity and untangle knotty questions or challenges. I hope, moreover, that my research helps others to achieve what they want from life.
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Recently I’ve been working in three areas of research interest.
1. (De)Population, Environment, and Regional Development in Post-industrial Society.
My first deep engagement with provincial and rural life in Japan came in the late 1980s when I was a JET Programme Assistant Language Teacher working in Tokushima Prefecture, in Shikoku, southwest Japan. For two years I saw every day the difficulties that isolated communities face with ageing and depopulation. Since that time I have felt personally connected to rural Japanese life and, as a consequence, want to give something back to the communities that helped and hosted me as a young man. I am currently interested in the relationship between demographic shrinkage and socio-environmental change in regional areas. I am especially concerned with whether and how human depopulation delivers socio-environmental benefits such as reduced resource demand, greenhouse gas emissions and waste - what I call a ‘Depopulation Dividend’. Here are some publications that deal with these issues in Japan and beyond.
2. The Theory and Practice of Permanent Employment in Large Organizations.
My research career began with a PhD on this topic, which I completed in 2001 and published as a monograph a couple of years later. I had been interested in the life and work of male employees in large organizations in East Asia ever since I worked for a semi-governmental agency in Tokyo in the early 1990s and experienced first hand the life of Japan’s eponymous salaryman. I felt like I had some useful things to say, and embarked on my research career. I’m still interested and still saying some useful things, I hope!
3. Gender at Work and its Cultural Representation.
My interest in employment studies and salarymen’s working lives has led me naturally to thinking about gender at work. By chance, while out one evening with a friend and colleague, we discovered a shared interest in depictions of men at work in Japanese manga and decided to work on an article together. We’ve been able to develop this further and, lately I’ve been working on ideas around sexism in work and society. Watch this space for more to come on this topic!
Finally, like many academics I enjoy engaging with diverse audiences, working with media, delivering talks and getting involved in fun projects beyond research and teaching. I am interested in internet communications and the founder and publishing editor of the electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies. I led the Discover Japanese Studies project, a set of web and CD-based materials designed to inform secondary school students about Japanese studies as a potential subject of study at university, More recently I’ve been writing for online media and expert audiences, a selection of which are here: