The question of ‘postmodernity’ that has swept Western academic and intellectual circles raises critical comparative questions. Do societies that have not experienced the same historical development as the West pass inevitably through modernity into postmodernity, or can they skip such stages altogether? Japan, the only non-Western society to develop independently a fully-fledged capitalist-industrialist economy, poses such fundamental questions to social theory. Is Japan in fact ‘unique’ and as such is it a society which escapes the net of conventional sociological abstractions? The book questions how special Japanese society really is, the limitations of Western social theory in grasping the fullness of this dynamic and a complex Asian society, and inquires as to how Japan in turn may speak to social theory and deepen and broaden the principles on which social theory attempts to explore and categorize the social and cultural worlds.
1. Introduction: Theorizing Japanese Society 2. From Modernity to Postmodernity? 3. High Culture/Mass Culture and the Experience of Late Modernity 4. Modernity and Lifestyle in the Japanese City 5. Natural Being/Social Being 6. Modernity and the Self 7. Hierarchy, ‘Group’ and Individual 8. Social Theory and the Particularities of Asian Modernity Bibliography. Index.