Affluence of the Heart: Waste in Postwar Japan


ACLS Fellowship Program




“Affluence of the Heart” examines how people thought about waste—of money, time, objects, and resources—in post-World War II Japan. Ideas and conversations about waste and wastefulness, this study suggests, were fundamentally about the definition of values and the search for meaning in an affluent society. Based on analyses of a variety of sources from government reports to children’s literature, the project traces how conceptions of a good and meaningful life changed and came to incorporate many and often contradictory commitments. At their heart, these concerns revolved around a central tension in Japan’s postwar experience: the desire to defend the privileges of middle class lifestyles made possible by economic growth; and the discomfort with the logic, costs, and consequences of that very prosperity.