Project “A Comparative Gender Analysis of Livelihood Security Systems”

“A Comparative Gender Analysis of Livelihood Security Systems-Faces of the Global Knowledge Economy and Social Exclusion”

Key questions

  • What is the current state of social exclusion issues such as poverty, unemployment, informalization of the labor market and difficulties in reproduction?
  • What are current trends in Livelihood Security System reforms that fight against social exclusion?

Research Purpose and Approach

This project carries out comparative gender analyses for Japan, Korea, Germany, and Sweden through combining approaches of “livelihood security system” and “social exclusion.”

Since the mid 1970s the economy has become more and more globalized and postindustrialization has been progressing particularly in advanced industrial nations, where the importance of the service sector has increased and production bases of the manufacturing sector have been increasingly transferred abroad. Under such circumstances, it has been recognized that capitalism per se is not uniform or monolithic and the theory of “Varieties of Capitalism” has been developed, distinguishing two major types of market economy, the “liberal market economy” and the “coordinated market economy.” On the other hand, the conventional livelihood security system relying on the welfare state is said to have reached a deadlock. Welfare states cannot cope with newly emerging social risks, and “social exclusion” that makes it hard for many people to make a living and participate in society has been observed.

Against such backdrop this project will pick up the above-mentioned four countries among those classified as coordinated market economies in the theory of varieties of capitalism, and identify the reality of social exclusion, including poverty, unemployment, shrinking fulltime employment, and difficulty in fostering the next-generation workforce as well as the trend of innovations introduced in the livelihood security system with a view to overcoming social exclusion. Furthermore, we also look at the institutions and practices of social economy or the third sector that are considered as effective actors for livelihood security. We will conduct surveys and research through field work in the United Kingdom, Italy and some other countries, and by other means to discover the relative importance in the economy of social economy, including community businesses, cooperatives, mutual aid association, social cooperatives, and social enterprises. The surveys and research will also take into account functions of social economy in securing people’s livelihood security (including the job creation effect, the labor market integration effect, and the ripple effect on regional economy).

Research Activities

This project holds a general meeting involving those cooperating overseas on a regular basis to promote an intensive exchange of research outputs and perspectives. Sessions where interim reports on research outcome are presented so as to obtain inputs from outside the project members are also organized as much as possible at conferences of major international academic associations.

In September 2009, we organized a public symposium followed by an intensive workshop in cooperation with the University of Bremen and the Hanse Institute of Advanced Science. Also, Institute for Japanese Studies of Seoul National University and we co-hosted an international symposium in March 2010.

Furthermore, as surveys on the third sector and social economy we visited and interviewed community business, cooperatives, and social cooperatives in Italy and the United Kingdom in September 2009.

We will continue to hold general meetings on a regular basis and turn the research outcome in the report in FY2010.




Project Leader



Professor, The University of Tokyo, Institute of Social Science

Research Fields

Social Policy






Name Affiliated Institution/Organization
Karen SHIRE Universität Duisburg, Comparative Sociology and Japanese Society in the Institutes of Sociology and East Asian Studies (Professor)
Karin GOTTSCHALL Universität Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (Professor)
Margarita ESTÉVEZ-ABE Syracuse University, Maxwell School (Associate Professor)
MIYAMOTO Taro Hokkaido University, School of Law (Professor)
KIM Young Pusan National University, Department of Sociology (Assistant Professor)
SOMA Naoko Yokohama National University, International Graduate School of Social Sciences (Associate Professor)
KANAI Kaoru Saitama University, Faculty of Economics (Associate Professor)
TANAKA Natsuko Tsuru University, Faculty of Letters (Professor)
YAMAGUCHI Kohei Consumer Co-operative Institute of Japan (Researcher)
IMAI Takako Seikei University, Faculty of Law (Professor)
PARK HeeSook Asahikawa University, Faculty of Health and Welfare Science, Department of Health and Nursing (Associate Professor)
SUNG Eunsoo The University of Tokyo (Completed PhD Program)
YONEZAWA Akira Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Postdoctoral Fellow)
FUKUDA Naoto The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Economics (PhD student)
TATEI Junko Research Division, Gender Equality Bureau, Cabinet Office
MIHASHI Maki Researcher on Social Issues

Ph.D., University of Tokyo Graduate Schools for Law and Politics

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