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Title: The Anxieties that Make the 'Otaku': Capital and the Common Sense of Consumption in Contemporary Japan
Authors: Kam, T.H. 
Issue Date: May-2013
Citation: Kam, T.H. (2013-05). The Anxieties that Make the 'Otaku': Capital and the Common Sense of Consumption in Contemporary Japan. Japanese Studies 33 (1) : 39-61. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The term 'otaku' is generally used in Japan to denote subcultures revolving around the consumption of popular culture, such as manga, anime and games. This paper, however, seeks to analyze 'otaku' as a label applied to individuals whose consumption is perceived and judged to have compromised certain values in contemporary Japan. Through analysis of interviews with a group of Japanese students, I found that the values they invoke to judge who the 'otaku' are, and which they construe as a form of common sense concerning consumption, correspond to the demands of advanced capitalism: consumption should be productive of capital, either leading to further production or fostering communication that is directly productive. At the same time, people are labeled as 'otaku' not merely for failing to produce capital through their consumption, but also for actively practicing a perversion of the capacities that are necessary to advanced capitalist Japan, most notably imagination and autonomy. 'Otaku' labeling thus points to capital's anxieties over capacities such as imagination, knowledge and autonomy: these capacities, while essential to a flexible and immaterial economy, could potentially become unproductive and threaten advanced capitalism. © 2013 Copyright © 2013 Japanese Studies Association of Australia.
Source Title: Japanese Studies
ISSN: 10371397
DOI: 10.1080/10371397.2013.768336
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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