2007 Volume 20 Pages 9-22
I refer to “a shrinking society” as a society where the size of population and/or economy is decreasing. In the first half of this paper, I discuss whether Japanese society is shrinking or not and whether a shrinking society is unexpected and unavoidable disaster for Japan or not.
The total population of Japan began to decrease in 2005. However, I do not think it is unexpected crisis. First, the total fertility rate has been below the replacement level since the 1970s. Second, it is estimated the future speed of decrease is not so fast. Third, many Japanese municipalities have already experienced the shrinking population.
It is thought that the population shrinking will result in economic decline. However, Japanese society can utilize the female labor force and we can also expect the increase of productivity in future.
In the latter half of this paper, I will discuss the relation between sociology and social welfare in “a shrinking society”. The study of social welfare in Japan has several characteristics. First, there is the dichotomy of policy and practice that means social work. Second, the practice takes precedence over all other things. Third, genba that means those who are doing the actual work has priority. Fourth, it is classifiedaccording to the category of clients. In the study of social welfare, chiiki-fukushi, community-based welfare is closely related to sociology, especially community studies. Recently chiiki-fukushi has become the mainstream in the world of social welfare in Japan because of social changes.
Sociology can contribute to both policy and practice of chiiki-fukushi by theoretical elaboration of the concept of community. Empirical researches of sociology, for example, social support, social capital, citizen participation and so on, can also contribute to the practice of chiiki-fukushi. It is expected that they will provide evidences for policy-making of chiiki-fukushi.