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Articles | Volume 1
15 Jul 2019
 | 15 Jul 2019

Changes in the distribution and structure of white-collar workers’ residences in Japan during the period of modernization

Takashi Kirimura

Keywords: Company employees and executives, Telephone directory, Urban structure, Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto

Abstract. In Japan, research on urban residential differentiation has been carried out since the 1970s. Most of this research has focused on large cities using social area analysis and factorial ecology. The poor availability of small area statistics hindered research on urban residential differentiation until the end of the 1960s. Therefore, previous studies that focused on the modern cities in Japan used region-specific materials. For example, Ueno (1981) who studied in Tokyo in the 1920s used the census data calculated by the Tokyo City Office and Mizuuchi (1982) who studied in Osaka from the 1860s to the 1930s used various statistics created by the prefectural police and so on. For this reason, it is difficult to explore the inter-city comparison on the residential differentiation during the period of modernization in Japan.

This study assesses the possibility of utilizing telephone directories as a data source to determine differences in geographical residence on the basis of occupation and visualize the distribution of white-collar workers’ residences in the mid-1930s in three Japanese cities: Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Although the regional situation on the penetration of telephones needs to be considered, the inter-city comparison becomes possible since the telephone directories in which the occupation of telephone subscribers was recorded was made available nationwide in the pre-war period. Since the white-collar workers during that period relatively belonged to the high class, many of them were considered subscribing to telephones. In addition, white-collar workers changed the previous urban structure that consisted of merchants and craftsmen into a modern one. Therefore, white-collar workers are a suitable subject for analyzing the telephone directory and the residential differentiation in the mid-1930s.

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