The ‘freeter’ is the Japanese term for someone who perpetually works part-time in order to spend the other half of their time exploring their passions.
The term obviously conjures up the notion of ‘freeloader’ in western culture, it’s someone who lives off of others. But we’d like to ask whether the negative connativity of ‘freeter’ is deserved.
“During the 1980s, a new type of worker, termed ''freeter,'' emerged in Japan. ''Freeter'' is a contraction of ''free Arbeiter', and implies a serial part-time worker who only holds part-time jobs or who moves from one job to another. A freeter has no intention of settling down to a serious career, and spends most of his or her time pursuing other interests or just enjoying freedom….
The declining chance of coming across a permanent job to which a young person can commit themselves undermines their commitment to the job in which they are currently engaged, and results in a rash of unemployment and job-switching. Young part-timers become dependent upon their parents, creating the so-called ''parasite singles'' phenomenon (Yamada 1999). The emergence of parasite singles is a direct consequence of a substantial decline in labor demand for young people and of structural changes in the corporate environment, as well as of the psycho-social characteristics of today's youth.”
Japan’s economy is an interesting case study in super-efficient, fast-paced rise to global economic wealth that it provides a vision of post-great-recession cultural attitudes.
More mainstream cognition regarding (over-)consumption and disillusionment with the political ecology of wealth were present in Japan after the beginning of it’s recession and continued throughout it’s decades of stagnation. You’ve only got to check out the work of Japan’s most translated author, Harukai Murakami:
“Latter-day capitalism. Like it or not, it's the society we live in. Even the standard of right and wrong has been subdi-vided, made sophisticated. Within good, there's fashionable good and unfash-ionable good, and ditto for bad. … Mix 'n' match. Like pulling on a Missoni sweater over Trussardi slacks and Pollini shoes, you can now enjoy hybrid styles of morality. It's the way of the world—philosophy starting to look more and more like business administration. “ Dance, Dance, Dance
The question we'd like you to consider is this: what’s wrong with working to earn enough to get buy? What’s wrong with putting your ‘real energy’ (for lack of a better term) into your passions? This is the kind of life that artists and innovators have always had. They say that those who truly never work a day in their lives are those who enjoy their work. Spending time on your passion may mean that one day you find a way to make a living at it.
Or not. And that’s probably ok too. Economic prospects are fewer these days and governments have less money. Local cooperative caring, farming, digital organisation, youth ministries all need a few good volunteers who probably wouldn’t do it and do it so passionately and so well if they had to.
What we’re looking for here is a balance, a balance that provides for everyone economically and humanistically. What do you want out of life?