Japanese Sociological Review
Online ISSN : 1884-2755
Print ISSN : 0021-5414
ISSN-L : 0021-5414
Perspectives from Where “Society” Has Been Stripped Off
On Attitudes towards “Unmediated Communication”
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2002 Volume 52 Issue 4 Pages 486-503


It is said that the reality of “society” has been declining, even among sociologists. Where can we experience “society” in reality and commence enquiries into it? One of those situations will be where “society” has been “stripped off, ” as it were. Living under that situation themselves or through their imagination, many sociologists and social thinkers have obtained real clues to explore “society” so far. How do we imagine that location in “society” ? How can we grasp the reality of “society” via our experience or imagination of it?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Erving Goffman and Hannah Arendt can be considered to be among those who have experienced or imagined that situation. Their images of it, however, differ very widely, as do their perspectives on “society.” This paper tries to reconstruct their perspectives. The focus will be on their attitudes towards “unmediated communication, ” a way of communication in which obstacles between people have been totally stripped off. One thought it as an ideal of human society, and the others criticized it as a kind of tragedy. This contrast demonstrates to us a crucial point with which to consider how people in plurality, that is, people who are “equal” and “different” at the same time, can ever make “society” together.

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