City Life in Japan: A Study of a Tokyo Ward

City Life in Japan: A Study of a Tokyo Ward

City Life in Japan: A Study of a Tokyo Ward

City Life in Japan: A Study of a Tokyo Ward

Synopsis

Incorporating a new expanded introduction. The continuing relevance of Ron Dore's classic study of Japanese urban life and social structures is widely accepted by urban sociologists and other social scientists concerned with the study of modern Japan.

Excerpt

The chief aim of this book is to give an idea of what it is like to be a Japanese living in Shitayama-cho, a neighbourhood of some three hundred households not far from the centre of Tokyo. It is concerned with what people do-how they earn a living and run a home, how they marry, how they amuse themselves, how they treat their relatives, their neighbours, and their gods-and with what people think and feel, in so far as this can be inferred from what they do and say. The account is based in part on direct observation of life as it is lived, in part on the information gained in the more artificial situation of the formal interview.

A neighbourhood study, such as this, has certain inevitable limitations as a means of approach to the study of 'city life in Japan'. Chiefly, there is the danger that the neighbourhood selected may be unrepresentative, and where the individual or the family is the unit of study a broader approach based on systematic sampling of, say, the inhabitants of Tokyo or of the urban Japanese population as a whole might be of greater value. On the other hand the neighbourhood study has certain advantages. In the first place it enables the results of formal interviews to be supplemented by personal acquaintance with the people concerned and a knowledge of the general background of their lives. In the second place it offers a means of studying a range of topics beyond the reach of a broader sample survey-patterns of community organization, for instance, friendships and neighbour relations, the functions of shrines and temples. There is a third general justification for the community study as a descriptive device; namely that the more the people studied are similar in background and outlook the more meaningful do generalizations about them become and the less is the 'average man' a mere statistical abstraction. This latter advantage, however, can hardly be claimed here, for, as Chapter 2 shows, the population of Shitayama-cho was, in origin, education, occupation and economic well-being not very much less heterogeneous than the population of Tokyo as a whole.

This heterogeneity of Shitayama-cho, although it destroys some of the advantage of the neighbourhood study approach, has its

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