Chapter

Mechanical Phoenix

Andrew Gordon

in Fabricating Consumers

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267855
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950313 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520267855.003.0007
Mechanical Phoenix

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This chapter investigates the process by which Japanese producers came to dominate home and world markets, and the Singer Sewing Machine Company's frustrated attempt to regain its dominant position. The sewing machine emerged as both mechanical chameleon and phoenix. As chameleon, the mishin quickly changed colors from home-front weapon to implement of peace in the autumn of 1945. As phoenix, it rose with astonishing speed to play an important role in the recovery of Japan's machine industry in export and domestic markets. Singer had been one of the few foreign firms with significant prewar reach into Japan's household consumer market. The story of the sewing machine as mechanical phoenix reveals a link between prewar and wartime developments and the postwar consumer revolution. Machine sewing was both a survival skill and a ticket to the dream of a bright life.

Keywords: mishin; Singer Company; mechanical chameleon; mechanical phoenix; Japan; consumer market

Chapter.  13659 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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