Thirty years have passed since the establishment of Japan Association for Urban Sociology in 1982. Until that time, Japan had experienced huge migration from rural area to metropolitan region, as well as rapid economic growth. Urbanization and its impacts on social, economic, and political life caused many tensions and problems in expanding urban areas, which certainly required a new type of knowledge for understanding and solution from a structural point of view. Urban sociology as a way of thinking was one of such attempts to answer these questions. From its beginning, a variety of thoughts, such as Chicago School. Marxian tradition, and New Urban Sociology, went into this emerging discipline in Japan. As its result, urban sociology, as an intellectual arena, was always filled with controversies and tensions among different schools and scholars. In addition, since its institutional establishment, urban sociology has faced with a kind of “identity crisis,” due to coming of post-urbanization situation. What is a research question specific for “urban” sociology in this highly-urbanized country? For instance, globalization was one of major factors which brought distinctive features to Japanese cities, but its impacts were actually mediated and transformed by more complex sets of global, national, regional, and local factors. This article tries to describe and evaluate historical development of this discipline in Japan since 1960s, which has always sought for key questions under ongoing changes in cities.
This paper is a manuscript of the report, for the 30th annual session of Japan Association for Urban Sociology, on September 9, 2012. It pointed out several points that seems to be important for the further discussion, and raised the issues, by looking back the empirical researches on social networks and personal networks of mine until now. Especially it focused on, and discussed about following points: the necessity to make a clear distinction between kinship and kin networks, the possibility to unite the theory of urban life-structure and the one of personal networks, the issue about viewing neighborhood networks, the issue about homogeneity of friendship networks in Japan, and the further subject about friendship networks.
Studies of ethnicity in Japan can be categorized into several broad themes, such as: urban community and foreign residents, foreign worker issues, policies for foreign residents, ethnic business, and ethnic culture. In this paper I will discuss previous studies and the future prospects of the first three themes which urban sociologists in Japan have long been working on. The population of Japan, incidentally, is expected to decline by approximately 41million in the coming 50 years. Now is the start of a society with a declining population.Japan needs to decide whether it will pursue the way of a “big country” or a “small country”. Sooner or later, the nation will be forced to seriously discuss the acceptance or non-acceptance of migrants. Over the last 25 years, sociologists have conducted research on foreign residents in Japan from various standpoints, sometimes with severely conflicting opinions. Right before the start of large-scale demographic change, we should pay special attention to every study made on this theme － this is the author's fundamental belief for this paper. Constructing the larger research framework within which to sublate the conflicting opinions will surely benefit our society in the future.
The purpose of this paper is to describe the process in which residential close alleys developed into the global hub for clothing design by using the case study of Jingu-mae, in Shibuya, Tokyo, and to discuss this transformation from a standpoint of Urban Sociology. Since the 1990s, self-employed clothing designers have established the offices on the close alleys in Jingu-mae. Originally, these close alleys were for local residents.However, in the early 1990s, after the asset-inflated bubble burst, these close alleys began to be transformed into the global hub for self-employed clothing designers. The reason of this transformation is as follows. During the 1980s, when land prices went sky-high, many local residents who could not pay the rising fixed property tax moved out to other areas. On the other hand, some residents scrapped their house and rebuilt the low-rise and low-rents commercial buildings owned by them. So these buildings attracted some clothing designers, and they have gathered in these alleys and made a base for clothing design. They have a global network specialized for clothing design. And they have created advanced style with high knowledge and skills. So some large clothing companies, attracted by self-employed designers, made business alliance with them. Thus, these large companies could buy new design and sell it as a latest fad clothing. As a result, the close alleys in Jingu-mae have become as a global science park for design of clothing. The academic significance of this research is as follows. The first significance is to focus on the global network of self-employed designers, and focus on the new role as a global science park for clothing design of the close alleys in Jingu-mae. The second significance is to discuss these findings from a standpoint of income gap among Producer Services in the Global City.
To examine urban effects on ways of life has long been a major focus of urban sociology, but some empirical researchers have found only modest effects of urbanism on ways of life. However, there is a possibility that previous empirical research underestimated urban effects because using the size of municipality as an urbanism scale has at least two problems. Firstly, the size of the place cannot reflect the number of residents in the vicinity of the municipality. Secondly, it cannot indicate the internal differences of the place. To avoid these problems, this paper focuses on how to formulate alternative scales. Two alternative scales based on population potential and population in accessible areas, respectively, are formulated by using regional mesh statistical data and geographic information systems. Moreover, I examine the effects of urbanism measured by these two scales as well as traditional one on 122 variables by using a correlation analysis. The results indicate that the alternative scales generally have stronger effects on many variables of urban behaviors and attitudes than the traditional one.
This paper explains social changes and restructuring of the urban underclass area by examining the case of Kotobuki in Yokohama, Japan. Kotobuki has been known as a day laborers' town built in the 1950s; however, more than 80％ of its current residents live on social welfare. As Yokohama City has implemented welfare services for people since the 1970s, many in Kotobuki have sought assistance. During the current decade in particular, the number of welfare recipients in the area has risen to the point where the area has become the center of socially vulnerable population. In response, the local government, social welfare council, and nursing care business offices have formed the community welfare system. Within the governmental welfare system, Yokohama created the “Community Welfare Health Plan” for the area in 2011, as in other areas. This plan provides for residents who are officially recognized as welfare recipients. However, those residents who earn little money and received special, temporary welfare support had their coverage reduced in 2006 and lost it entirely in 2012, causing greater difficulty for the homeless. With an increasing number of welfare recipients, Kotobuki has become known as “the town of welfare,” making it more difficult for its residents to achieve upward social mobility. Even though the populace's high social mobility had been the area's norm, Kotobuki is now largely a welfare district.
The main goal of this essay is to explore the construction of sacred place in the multi-religious context based on a field study at Bodhagaya, India. Bodhagaya is generally regarded as the most significant sacred place for Buddhist believers mainly because it is the place the Buddha reached his enlightenment. This widely known site recognized for its Buddhist significance attracts a large number of pilgrims, tourists from different parts of the world to the religious-historical site currently called Mahabodhi Maha Vihar. But this popular conception of the site is established on a rather serious sociological neglect of the fact that the sacred place of Bodhagaya is a place located in a social environment composed of multiple religions. This essay will examine the actual construction of the sacred place in Bodhagaya from a sociological concern whether the sacred place of Bodhagaya is constructed solely from Buddhist conception of the site or it is the result of superimposed interaction, interpenetration or conflict between plural religious interests.