This study investigates the cultural basis for attitudes toward birth control in Japan. The literature is reviewed to understand: (1) symbolic and medical anthropology, since contraceptive practices come within the realm of the medical system, and the medical system of a culture may symbolically reflect the society of which it is a part, (2) the work of other anthropologists who have described concepts of "personhood" in Japanese society, as well as how Japanese formulations of "selfhood" compare with American conceptions, and (3) the history of abortion and birth control in Japan. From this review of the literature, I speculate upon the possible ways in which this "Japanses" view of the self, whereby the self is perceived as being constituded through interaction with others, rather than as acting relatively independently, could underlie attitudes toward birth control in Japan. These hypothesis are explored throigh interviews and questionaries given to Japanese exchange students and American college students. The results of the study suggest that the Japanese conceptions of self postulated by other anthropologists are reflected in Japanese attitudes towards birth control.


McConnell, David


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

Available for download on Thursday, January 01, 2150

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© Copyright 1994 Jean L. Harris