Order by Accident: The Origins and Consequences of Conformity in Contemporary Japan

Order by Accident: The Origins and Consequences of Conformity in Contemporary Japan

Order by Accident: The Origins and Consequences of Conformity in Contemporary Japan

Order by Accident: The Origins and Consequences of Conformity in Contemporary Japan

Synopsis

While the consequences of low social order are well understood, the consequences of high social order are not. Yet perhaps nowhere in the world is social order so well developed as in Japan, which is highly organized, economically successful, and enjoys a safe society. However, Japan pays a price--the loss of personal freedom, and the inability to exploit its citizens' talents. In Order by Accident, Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa discuss the consequences of high social order in Japan. They integrate a wide range of scholarship on Japan, ranging from studies by criminologists, to religious studies, to the most current social psychological studies. The results are sometimes startling and counterintuitive, since the same theory of social order explains equally well why Japan has an orderly society with low street crimes, but is plagued with problems such as white collar crime.

Excerpt

For many Westerners, Japanese society has often provided an interesting area of study. Although Japan is a modern industrialized country, in many ways it differs dramatically from Western, and even other Eastern, modern industrialized societies. Japan's differences from Western societies are especially evident when comparing Japan with the United States. Both Japan and the United States are technologically advanced and highly urban countries with democratic political systems and capitalist economies. They are also the two leading world economic powers, as well as strong military allies. But they are also fundamentally different. The differences are not merely cultural by-products, based on differences in race, language, and religion. The differences are specifically related to the structures of each society -- to the relationships among people and between people and social institutions, and as such, represent an explicit desire to organize their societies differently.

This book explores how social order is produced and maintained in Japan. By social order we mean the degree to which people follow explicit and implicit rules of behavior. That is, a society where the great majority of citizens obey laws and conform to social norms can be described as having a high degree of social order. Japan is such a society. This books seeks to explain why social order is high in Japan (and, by implication, why it is relatively low in many other countries, particularly in the United States). However, rather than relying on ill-defined concepts of culture or tradition, the focus is primarily on understanding specific social psychological processes that occur in small groups, and how these social control mechanisms produce both desirable and undesirable consequences at higher levels of social aggregation. In doing so, this book attempts to integrate a wide range of scholarship on Japan, ranging from studies by criminologists to religious studies to the most current social psychological studies.

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