Beyond Japan: A Note on the Hikikomori Phenomenon in America

19 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2022

Date Written: May 15, 2022


This working paper examines the tendency to social withdrawal in the fashion of the "hikikomori" (e.g. the tendency of significant numbers of prime working age adults to eschew work and relationships outside their family) as manifest in the United States. Taking a critical view of the common tendency of the literature on the subject to "exoticize" the phenomenon, and to take a narrowly psychological approach to it, the paper considers social withdrawal as a response to declining conformity (in the Mertonian sense of the term) in a period of declining economic prospects and changing expectations with regard to marriage and family, with all their implications for traditional lifeways and their associated obligations.

Keywords: Hikikomori, Social Withdrawal, Decline of the Middle Class, The Lower Middle Class, Conformity, Nonconformity, Popular Culture

Suggested Citation

Elhefnawy, Nader, Beyond Japan: A Note on the Hikikomori Phenomenon in America (May 15, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Nader Elhefnawy (Contact Author)

Miami-Dade Community College ( email )

300 NE 2nd Ave. Suite 3604
Miami, FL 33132
United States

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