Individualization of marriage and work life choices: A study of never-married employed women in Hong Kong and Tokyo

Hiromi Tanaka, Catherine Wah-hung Ng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Current social changes in post-industrialized societies include the rise of alternate ways of living. One notable development in this light is the increase in the number of single-person households. This article intends to offer insights on the social meaning of the changing patterns of individualized ways of living among never-married employed women. In so doing, we aim to contribute to academic discussions on individualization and life-course or biographical changes, which so far have not adequately reflected non-Western experiences. Based on qualitative studies of never-married employed women in Hong Kong and Tokyo, we examine their life choices on marriage and work to better understand how individuals craft their ways of living. Our analysis reveals that individualization of women's lifestyles does not necessarily involve a dramatic surge in individual autonomy or the erosion of the traditional marriage institution. We argue that in East Asian late modernity biographical freedom for women is still constrained by the conventions that characterized the first modernity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-120
Number of pages36
JournalAsian Women
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • East Asia
  • Individualization
  • Marriage
  • Women
  • Work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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