Sociologists have defined “knowledge” as a social frame that gives people a specific reality and have discussed religion as a type of knowledge. Religious knowledge was historically produced by religious and political elites and was used to control the population in their territories. However, the situations surrounding religious knowledge have changed dramatically due to the emergence of the “information age.” In the information age, information of any kind is unregulated and freely accessible, and people can personally manage and even produce religious knowledge, free from interference by religious authority. Recent studies have demonstrated that this “democratization” of knowledge production influences young Muslims' understanding of Islam and their attitudes towards integration in wider society. Nevertheless, there has long been a gap in sociological research on the influence of Islamic “knowledge” on young Muslims partly because, in the UK, ethnicity has trumped religion. This paper aims to discuss the changes in young Muslims' relations to Islamic “knowledge” and the role of Islamic “knowledge” in their integration into British society. The data in this research were collected from interviews conducted in Coventry and examined using a thematic analysis. In interviews, participants pointed out three contexts concerning relations between young Muslims and Islamic “knowledge”; firstly, the development of religious infrastructures; secondly, being Muslim in a non-Muslim society; and thirdly, social pressure and suspicion of Muslims. These contexts prompt informants' personal research on and reinterpretation of Islamic “knowledge” in order to present Islam as more adaptable to democratic society. The analysis indicates that further developments of religious facilities and networks, which contribute to a deep understanding of Islam, are required to support young Muslims' integration into wider society.
The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on the reflexivity of Anthony Giddens' social theory in terms of both the coevolutionary theories of human cognition and culture and recent findings of neuroscience.
First, the paper outlines the coevolutionary theories as well as the types of reflexivity in Giddens' social theory. Mimesis, oral culture and literacy are crucial in the history of cognition and culture of humankind. Giddens has distinguished the reflexivity of traditional culture from that of oral culture; the criterion for his distinction is the historical emergence of writing. However, he has not fully explained the transformation of non-literate society into literate society. Thus, this paper applies the Great Divide theory and neuroscientific findings to the explanation of the transformation, arguing that the mirror neuron is the neuroscientific basis of reflexivity in non-literate societies. On the other hand, the invention of literacy should have changed the neuron systems in our brain, as stated by the neuronal recycling hypothesis. This is the neuroscientific basis of reflexivity in literate societies.
Second, the paper examines the historical classification of types of society in Giddens' theory. He emphasized the qualitative difference in reflexivity between traditional literate cultures and modernity, followed by the discontinuity between traditional society and modern society. However, the emergence of literacy was a critical turning point in human history, and therefore the difference should be regarded as quantitative rather than qualitative, or continuous rather than discontinuous. This paper then maintains not only the continuity between traditional society and modern society but also the discontinuity between traditional society and preliterate society.
Finally, the paper investigates the consequences of literacy. We are now in the historical stage when the evolution of reflexivity has spread throughout human society. This suggests that we obtain an ability to modify reflexively our own selection pressure.
How did people in modern monarchies view or consume visual images of royal festivals transformed by industrial capitalism into commercialized spectacles? How did these visual experiences influence the makeup of people's national identities or mentalities as consumers? The aim of this paper, which takes as a case study the spectacles of the Japanese monarchy in the early 20th century, is to answer these questions from a sociohistorical viewpoint, and to reconsider the historical and social significance of spectacles of the monarchy at festivals as popular contemporary collective experiences.
This paper focuses on two points. First, modern Japanese people's visual experience of royal festivals was distinguished by a transient and quantitative demand for commercialized visual images of monarchs or rituals. Second, the expansion of these kinds of visual experiences often resulted in disregard for the national context of royal festivals. By positively identifying these points, this paper proposes that spectacularization of monarch festivals often impeded the development of nationalism.
The countryside access issue is a conflict over countryside land between their legal owners (mainly farmers) and the people using them for recreational purposes. This issue often creates a situation in which a dialogue and system for recreational access may or may not work properly depending on the access point. Indisputable justice cannot be established for the conflict. However, existing studies on natural resource management by multiple stakeholders have not examined such a situation. This article explores the activities of hill-walkers at the multiple access points in the Republic of Ireland, where the countryside access issue has intensified recently, and analyzes how they consider access to the countryside in the aforementioned situation.
Ireland has two national organizations for hill-walkers. One approaches the countryside access issue from the justice perspective and the other from the dialogue perspective. Their approaches are not consistent with each other. An inquiry into the practices of a local mountaineering club based in an area where there have been serious access problems revealed that the club members approach the access to the countryside with their ideal of hill-walking, using the logic of building “good relationships with farmers.” Unlike the approaches of the two national organizations, this club's approach has been effective as their methods help avoid conflicts with farmers and help them maintain their recreational activities. The result shows the potential of the logics of recreational activities. The logics create the methods to co-exist with other stakeholders in natural resource management. The result also reveals the importance of inquiry into people's everyday practices in researching natural resource management by multiple stakeholders.
This study, which focuses on the health effects of radiation exposure following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, examines how we should discuss uncertainty in the context of environmental risks. In the debate on radiation exposure, scientists who support the government's policy have admitted that the scientific knowledge that underpins the policy is questionable. However, they seem to discuss uncertainty in generalized and superficial terms, hesitating to discuss “specific uncertainties” with reference to particular academic papers or research. This can obstruct constructive discussions between different parties. I examine the minutes of two government-established working groups' discussions on radiation exposure.
I found that these groups were strikingly different, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in how they discussed uncertainty. The Working Group on Risk Management of Low-Dose Radiation Exposure, exclusively comprising experts on radiation and nuclear engineering, did not frequently mention uncertainty. It repeatedly referred to the reports of international organizations such as the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). It did not consider critically the basis of an “international consensus.” In contrast, the Working Group of the Food Safety Commission included scientists specializing in chemical risks, who instead of relying on “international consensus,” discussed particular academic papers, paying attention to uncertainty in relevant scientific knowledge. They showed “negative self-reference,” that is, systematic consideration of specific uncertainties, particularly in the scientific knowledge that facilitated the group's arriving at conclusions. The discussion based on negative self-reference revealed each member's attitude toward the risk of radiation exposure and demonstrated how the group reached its conclusion from an external perspective. This study also suggests that the participation of non-expert members in the groups obstructed negative self-reference in some cases.