For those who have asked about further research materials on hikikomori.
First off, I would refer you to the bibliography of my last paper titled "From Failed Sons to Working Men: Rehabilitating Hikikomori". I have always found looking at the Bib of a good paper great groundwork for further inquiry. If you would like to use the sources cited from my last published paper you can download a PDF here .
Also, here is an outstanding research articles on hikikomori.
This is an excellent piece by Andy Furlong from the University of Glasgow that manages to tie together hikikomori, freeters and the current labor market issues in Japan.
Sociological Review, Volume 56 Issue 2, Pages 309 - 325, Published Online: 18 Apr 2008
Title "The Japanese hikikomori phenomenon: acute social withdrawal among young people"
Although rare in the west, in Japan and in some other advanced countries on the Asian-Pacific rim, there is a popular perception that there has been a significant increase in the numbers of young people who withdraw socially for protracted periods of time (referred to by the Japanese term 'hikikomori'). This paper describes the hikikomori phenomenon in Japan, considers evidence relating to its prevalence and examines views about the causes. I argue that the tendency to think of hikikomori as a homogeneous group characterised by psychological malaise is misleading and that withdrawal and disengagement can also be linked to changing opportunity structures. The collapse of the primary labour market for young people and the growing prevalence of a precarious secondary sector has led to a situation in which traditional and deep-rooted norms are undermined and young people forced to find new ways of navigating transitions within a highly pressured and rigid system. Under these circumstances, acute withdrawal often represents an anomic response to a situation where tradition no longer provides adequate clues to appropriate behaviour rather than as a malaise reducible to individual psychologies.
There are no direct PDF downloads I am aware of but it is available online via Wiley Inter-science for purchase. For those readers affiliated with a university or research institution you should be able to access a copy of the Journal Sociological Review for free via your library system.
Furlong is a good researcher and reaches a great many conclusions I did is, I admit much more sophisticated in his analysis. Also he had the advantage of research funding and many years of experience over me. I highly recommend his book:
Furlong, A. & Cartmel, F. 2006, Young People and Social Change: New Perspectives, 2nd edn, Open University Press, Buckingham, UK.
FYI, I will be posting citations on the blog in the American Sociological Association (ASA) citation style using my Sente 5 Database (would the good folks at Third Street Software please, please publish an official ASA Bibliography Format? All I can find is a user created one in the forums).