In the declining birthrate and a growing proportion of elderly people, the social security system is under the strong pressure of various reconsideration. There is a lot of voice insisting on social security reform. However, the most of them are those which, based on mainstream economic theory, assert that only the “reduction in” social security spending is the reform. They argue that “a rise of the social security expenses” increases “the burden to national economy,” though this is entirely false in spite of seeming plausibility. Then, they insist a reduction in public expense and a rise of beneficiaries' payment for the reason of the financial difficulty, without any consideration on “ideal of welfare society” perfectly. Any argument of how to reform a social security system should be based on primarily “a normative image of welfare society”, and this is the important task on which sociology should undertake. However, in today's sociology, there is few scholarly attempt which would, appropriately gainsaying the logic of a financial difficulty, develop any reform plan. At most, some abstract ideas such as “social inclusion”, “solidarity” and “post-productivism” etc. are just told. There seems to be the following reasons for this lack of presenting a reform plan in sociology. (1) Sociology has avoided confronting with logic of economics directly and has neglected to develop its own knowledge about the macro national economy. (2) A utopian view “when telling an ideal, the realization condition might be ignored” has justified this intellectual negligence. And, (3) as an underlying background for them, there is the old and new self-image of sociology as an empirical discipline. This paper reconsiders and analyze the current state of sociology critically, and makes it clear how and in what kind of reason sociology should work on the task of social security reform.
This paper explores how important sociological migration researches after the latter half of 1980's of foreign migrants staying in Japan have contributed or not to migration policies in Japan. The amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act enacted in 1990 decided the basic direction of Japanese migration policies; and thus present migration policies is often called “1990 regime”. Under the regime, only immigration controls are precedent, and policies for inclusive migrant integration are almost non-existent. The regime opened the way to accept Japanese descendants overseas and technical trainees and apprentices as labor force. It also decided to reject unskilled workers, leading to rapid increase of irregularly staying migrant workers. Corresponding to the situation, five major fields of interest of sociological migration research have developed. They are as follows; work situations and everyday lives of migrant workers, regional concentration of migrants and area studies, differentiated modes of adaptation of migrants by ethnic groups, educational problems of the second generation of migrants, and entitlement of political rights for migrants. Sociological migrant researches and researchers helped partial relieves of irregular migrants as well as positive contributions to community problem solutions and improvements of migrant treatment by local governments. However, at present, the perspective of opening the way towards the comprehensive migrant integration policy by sociologists is so meager.
This article argues that the state of young people known as ‘freeter’ and NEET are manifestations of social exclusion rather than that of labour market trends. The article reviews the way in which the focus of the government's youth policies have shifted from the employment issues to social inclusion initiatives, and examines how Sociology has addressed the issue as these youth problems became increasingly urgent. The term ‘social policies’ in the article's title refers to the series of policies for supporting young people with difficult backgrounds during their transition to adulthood. The late 1980s saw a new surge of interest in youth studies as an interdisciplinary academic field. Along with a number of youth policies initiated by the government, by the mid-2000s, youth issues became not only a significant subject of academic study but also a social phenomenon that was widely discussed in the media. The interest in the issue can be broadly divided into five categories: 1) empirical research into the backgrounds of young people who were classified as ‘freeters’ or NEET; 2) comparative studies of youths in similar conditions in developed countries; 3) youths support initiatives within the labour policies in Japan; 4) books for general readers about various youth problems and advice; and 5) discourse analysis of ‘freeters’ and NEET. The increased awareness of the youth issues and active policy making in the 2000s would not have been possible without the close partnership between academics, the government agencies, and various organisations in the private sector. Academics contributed by undertaking research, analysing the findings, and presenting them in order for the government to define the aims of the policies. Sociology can explain why the issue of NEET needs to be part of social inclusion initiatives. As an academic field, Sociology is well equipped with research methods and analytical tools that can be utilised to understand the complex backgrounds of young people at risk as inter-related issues within a single framework. On this basis, this article suggests that Sociologists have the duty to advocate the importance of long-term visions when developing youth policies in order to create society in which young people are effectively supported.
This paper explores the difficulties and possibilities of Sociologists who try to contribute to local government policy-making through the examination of past experiences of researchers who were engaged in rural or urban community studies. We take up three cases as follows: The first is a critique of the Regional Development Policy created by Sociologists engaged in Regional and Community Studies developed from Rural Sociology which studies the effects of the Farmland Reform after World War II. The second documents the experience of Urban Sociologists strongly engaged in Community Policy proposed by the past Ministry of Home Affairs. The third is a more recent report of the Sociology Committee within the Science Council of Japan. Through the analysis of these cases it becomes clear that Sociologists have to contribute to building policy while considering the following three conditions: The first and most important role of Sociologists is investigating the results of a policy after it has come into effect. Secondly, according to the results of this research, policy presented by Sociologists must be based on the preferences of ordinary people. Thirdly, Sociologists engaged in policymaking need to understand the conditions of the government trying to execute the policy. Under these conditions, Sociologists try to discover the best way of realizing what they want. Sociology's contribution to governmental policy is to clarify historical and path-dependent cultural conditions based on an understanding of people's subjective meanings embedded in the social relations of the past and present. Local government policy will not be approved by many residents without considering these sociological elements. This is the contribution of sociology to the policymaker. It makes policy more effective and helps the local government be more democratic.
How does sociology contribute to the distribution of burden? The Burden comes from the generation of benefit and can destroy a society or human. This is why someone must receive (=be distributed) and deal it. On the distribution of burden, it is essential that the distribution is equitable and rules of the distribution are based on fair procedures. Discussions and processes on fair rule making are influenced by some characteristics of a social system. In this paper, by concepts of the benefit zone and the victimized zone, the management system and the domination system, the public sphere and the arena, the rationality and the reasonability, we will take three cases. Those are the construction of super express trains called Seibi-Shinkansen, the debt of former national railway and the disposal of high level radioactive waste. By this analysis, we can point out some facts on unequal distribution of burden via dys-interrelation of the management system and the domination system. First of all, there are patterns of ‘melting’ and ‘transformation’ of burden. These can shift burdens onto nationwide people and future generations. Second, designs of the public sphere are indefinite. This can make procedures for rules arbitrary. Third, local government finance system promotes for unequal distribution of burden. Moreover, we are becoming a generation that receives burdens from former generations and facing with the ‘burden legacy’. For burden legacy, any rules cannot be based on a relationship between benefit and burden. For overcoming the burden legacy, we need to re-design the public sphere and prevent an unequal distribution of burdens by the dys-interrelation of two systems above mentioned.
Since the 1990s, the declining birthrate measures have been carried out in Japan. Studies of familysociology have provided various viewpoints for understanding thelow birthrate and its background. These viewpoints have contributed to the formation of policy on childcare and balancing work-life. This article discusses (1) direction of the measures to counter the declining birthrate, (2) efforts for promoting a work-life balance for woman, (3) isolation of mothers and their anxiety about child care, and (4) factors related to the increase in single people. Although 20 years have passedsince the policies were first initiated, the birth rate has not improved to date. It is suggested that this failure is due to a mismatch between the target of conventional policies, and the actual situation of families. Policies to date have supportedworking couples in regular employment during delivery and childcare. However, those are only a part of overall number of families. It is suggested that the main reason forthe low birthrate is that young people who cannot get married have increased, because of the deterioration in employment opportunities. In addition, child delivery and childcare have become difficult for typical families which have high ratioamong the married couples. In order to revive the birth rate, it would be necessary to widen policy targets to include such people. It is suggested that following points would contributeto policy formation for tackling the decliningbirthrate and others issues. (1) Studies should be conducted on the real situation of the declining birthrate and its factors in order to develop concrete policy suggestions. (2) It is important to conduct quantitative studies. (3) Studies to elucidate the perspective of the Japanese families are required. (4) It is necessary to turn feedback loop to inspect setting and that of hypothesis of the policy.
The Japan Sociological Society works for the professional development of social researchers. It also continues to strive to improve the scientific standards of social research and to facilitate its widespread use. In 2003, for example, the Society launched its Certified Social Researcher Program and in 2008, established the Japanese Association for Social Research as a corporate body. Despite such efforts, the results of social research studies and the talent of social researchers are still not being fully used in government policy development processes. One major cause for this may be that sociology has been slow to raise issues from the perspectives of Statistics Act-compliant statistical surveys and the systemic framework for government statistics services. Basic data used to develop administrative measures in the post-World War II era in Japan were provided through statistical surveys and statistical administration. While, on the one hand, this statistical administration system contributed to Japan's comeback story after World War II, it has, on the other hand, long held significant influence or sway on statistical surveys and opinion polls conducted by government agencies. However, in light of the momentous changes in society, the economy and lifestyles during the seven decades following World War II, it actually has now become inappropriate to rely solely on government statistics for policy development. The present paper analyzes the use of statistical surveys in the policy development process at central, prefectural and municipal governments and goes on to address some of the problems connected to these. Through this analysis, the paper discusses how the sociological community can better raise issues to build an effective data-oriented policy development system.
This paper examines how interaction between care workers and their disabled clients influenced the latter's quality of life. To facilitate disabled people's movements, care workers should act as their “hands and feet.” This means that they should help their clients in a subtle manner to avoid lowering the disabled peoples' self-determination. Earlier studies (Maeda 2006), however, found that care workers inevitably do influence disabled persons' levels of self-determination because their day-to-day decisions depend on the presence of a care worker. Hence, to encourage productive conflict (i. e., encouraging disabled people to ask for a favor without hesitation), this inevitable influence of care workers should be examined to evaluate its inherent structure. Care workers may be unable to recognize the existence of this influence, and thus, disabled persons would not be encouraged to freely ask for help. Therefore, this paper asserts that not only the interactions and practices between disabled people and care workers, but also the interactions among care workers themselves, should be discussed. The author interviewed a disabled person suffering from a motor neuron disease and his care workers and observed their daily interactions while living/working. Analysis of the qualitative data revealed that additional training such as communication coaching can improve care workers' skills and encourage them to expand their roles. The study also found that although the care workers can recognize hidden conflicts by observing other care workers, most were hesitant to advise or encourage others to alter their roles, mainly because they think that the division of roles is determined by the disabled person. This causes the care workers' roles to remain unchanged, become stagnant, and can create problematic situations. These findings can help both disabled people and care workers to find better ways to address problems, which could help reduce hidden conflict.
Walter Benjamin used the term “dialectic” to describe his theoretical stance, arguing about “dialectics at a standstill” in The Arcades Project. Theodor W. Adorno, however, often criticized Benjamin for his lack of dialectical sense. As such, there is a crucial distinction between both thinkers' notion of the concept.” This paper considers Benjamin's concept of dialectic in comparison with that of Adorno. In his doctoral dissertation, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, Benjamin discusses the dialectical potential of the literary device “allegory.” He states that, in contrast to static and systematic “symbols,” fluidity and ambiguity are the characteristics of allegory. It is these characteristics of allegory that enable us to grasp antinomies or contradictions. According to Benjamin, these allegorical fragments constitute a tragic drama as an unarranged whole, and that a dialectical narrative requires allegorical thinking. The subject of allegory continues to exist in The Arcades Project, Benjamin's later unfinished work. Like allegory, “commodity” has the characteristics of fluidity and ambiguity, but a capitalist society, which consists of commodities, is static and systematic, namely “identical.” Benjamin reinterprets commodity as allegory and introduces unarranged elements into a modern “identical” society in order to criticize it. Diving deeply into the dreams of commodities, Benjamin seeks complex images in modern society. Multiple elements are condensed into a single image, which is illustrated through Benjamin's “dialectics at a standstill,” describing multiplicity and the simultaneous nature of image. On the other hand, Adorno's “negative dialectics” emphasize the dynamic and causal aspects of the concept. Within this paper, two directions for the development of dialectic are explored.