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Title:The Art of Seduction and Affect Economy: Neoliberal Class Struggle and Gender Politics in a Tokyo Host Club
Author(s):Takeyama, Akiko
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Karen Kelsky
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Abstract:This dissertation investigates the underground world of Japan's increasingly popular host club scene, where mostly young, working-class men "sell" romance, love, and sometimes sex to indulge their female clients' fantasy, often for exorbitant sums of money. I explore this commercialization of feelings, emotions, and romantic relationships---what I call 'affect economy'---in the context of Japan's recent socioeconomic restructuring, a reaction to globalization that is reshaping the nation's labor and commodity forms. Based on ethnographic fieldwork I conducted in Tokyo between 2003 and 2005, I argue that selfhood, lifestyles, and social relationships have become commodifiable at the intersection of Japan's postindustrial consumer culture and neoliberal globalization. My dissertation aims to provide a fine-grained ethnographic portrait of how hosts and their clients mutually seduce one another to foster a commodified form of romance whereby both sides seek alternative lives and cultivate their desirable selves---potentially successful entrepreneurial men and sexually attractive women---while it simultaneously underscores gender subordination, social inequality, and the exploitative nature of the affect economy in Japan. I illuminate how mutual seduction between hosts and their clients intertwines with Japan's neoliberal policymaking and governance that similarly capitalizes on and mobilizes individual hopes, dreams, and self-motivations to satisfy both their own and national interests. In turn, I theorize seduction as a form of power that entails suggestive speech and bodily acts to entice the other person(s) into acting for both the seducer's and the seducee(s)' ends. Seduction is, I argue, neither a mere sexual temptation nor a sinful deception, but a ubiquitous yet unstructured tactic that institutions and individuals alike employ to manipulate the other and shape power dynamics. The art of seduction is, thus, a form of social governance-at-a distance and also a pivot of speculative accumulation of capital.
Issue Date:2008
Description:242 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3314910
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2008

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