An Introduction to Japanese Society

An Introduction to Japanese Society

An Introduction to Japanese Society

An Introduction to Japanese Society

Synopsis

This revised edition has been updated to cover developments in the five years since the first edition was published. Yoshio Sugimoto challenges the traditional notion that Japan is an homogeneous society with few cultural and social disparities.

Excerpt

The images of Japanese society both in Japan and abroad have fluctuated over time under shifting intellectual contexts.Subjected to changes in Japan's political economy and international status, the portrait of Japan has swung back and forth like a pendulum between adoration and antipathy. The theoretical framework of Japan analysis has also fluctuated between two poles: particularistic characterizations and universalistic generalizations. Conscious of these competing perspectives, one inevitably has to be selective in producing a general textbook. In writing this book which delineates such a wide range of aspects of Japanese society as generation, occupation, education, gender, minority, and popular culture, I attempted to restore three balances in the study of contemporary Japan.

The first of these concerns the degree of homogeneity of Japanese society.The view that Japan comprises an extremely uniform culture continues to be both dominant and pervasive despite several studies which questioned and challenged this perspective in the 1980s and the early 1990s.The competing multicultural paradigm which highlights the internal variation and stratification of Japanese society remains peripheral and does not appear to have received the attention it deserves.This book makes a modest attempt to rectify this imbalance by focussing on subcultural diversity and class competition within Japanese society.

The second bias pertains to the continuing dominance of the socalled group model of Japanese society, which maintains that the Japanese are essentially faithful to their groups and uniquely oriented to their consensual integration. While the Japanese undoubtedly show group behavior in many situations, many questions remain unanswered as to whether Japanese groupism is uniquely high in comparison with other countries.It also continues to be debatable whether the Japanese act in a groupist way in all spheres of life, whether different social groups in Japan exhibit different levels of groupism, and whether the Japanese behave in groups on the basis of voluntary commitment or under the constraint of ideological manipulation.This text underscores . . .

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