1st Edition

Interpreting Japan Approaches and Applications for the Classroom

By Brian McVeigh Copyright 2014
    294 Pages 69 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    294 Pages 69 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Written by an experienced teacher and scholar, this book offers university students a handy "how to" guide for interpreting Japanese society and conducting their own research. Stressing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, Brian McVeigh lays out practical and understandable research approaches in a systematic fashion to demonstrate how, with the right conceptual tools and enough bibliographical sources, Japanese society can be productively analyzed from a distance.

    In concise chapters, these approaches are applied to a whole range of topics: from the aesthetics of street culture; the philosophical import of sci-fi anime; how the state distributes wealth; welfare policies; the impact of official policies on gender relations; updated spiritual traditions; why manners are so important; kinship structures; corporate culture; class; schooling; self-presentation; visual culture; to the subtleties of Japanese grammar.  Examples from popular culture, daily life, and historical events are used to illustrate and highlight the color, dynamism, and diversity of Japanese society. 

    Designed for both beginning and more advanced students, this book is intended not just for Japanese studies but for cross-cultural comparison and to demonstrate how social scientists craft their scholarship. 

    Prologue: To Students and Instructors  Part 1: Approaches and Analytics  1. Myths: Images and Realities of Japan  2. Rituals: Understanding Patterned Practices and Behaviors  3. Exchange: Analyzing the Flow and Transfer of Goods and Values  4. Macro–Micro Levels: Linking the Everyday with Political Economic Institutions  5. Symbols: Interpreting Images, Representations, and Meanings  6. Identity: How Collectivities Configure a Sense of Self  7. Popular Culture: Arts, Entertainment, and Leisure as Interpretative Windows  8. Ownership: The Relationship Among Property, Politics, and Personhood  9. Embodiment: The Senses, Aesthetics, and Knowledge Formation  10. Theatrics: Social Life as Dramatization  Part 2: Applications, Examples, and Illustrations  11. Schooling as an Exchange with the National State  12. The Rhythms and Organizations of Schooling  13. Social Mobility and Class in Japan  14. Japan’s Corporate Culture and Economic Liberty  15. Political Liberation: Examples from History and Art  16. Liberalist Ideologies and their Practice in Japan  17. Searching for "Authentic" Japanese Identity: Portrayals in Popular Art  18. Delineating the "Mainstream" Identity of the Japanese  19. The Symbolism of Spatial Experience  20. Making Sense of Sound: Japanese Auditory Symbolism  21. Conceptual Basics of the Japanese Language  22. How Japanese Encodes Time as Spatial Relations  23. How Political Economics Shapes Politeness  24. Manners and Morals in Everyday Life  25. Gender Relations in Popular Art: Commentary and Critical Appraisals  26. Cuteness: Daily Aesthetics as Resistance to Social Order  27. Changing Patterns and Perceptions of the Japanese Family  28. Japanese Spirituality: Purification and Festivals  29. The Vitalism of Japan’s New Religions  30. Technology, Time, and the Culture of the Copy  31. The Magic of Technology: Fears and Fantasies in Japanese Science Fiction  32. Royal Weddings: The Self-presentation of the State  Epilogue: Lessons from Japan: The "Staginess" of Postmodern Social Life


    Brian J. McVeigh is presently training in counseling at the School of Health Sciences, Sage Graduate School and teaches at the School of Government and Public Policy, University of Arizona. The author of seven books, he is currently investigating the history of Japanese psychology.

    'Leading revisionist scholar Brian McVeigh has written a highly original book, synthesising his critical readings of Japanese society into an easily accessible format. This provocative text will stimulate class discussions, and enable students to gain a ready understanding of the key debates in Japanese studies. I recommend it very highly'.Duncan McCargo, Professor of Political Science, University of Leeds, UK

    'Brian McVeigh’s book provides the new paradigm of Japanese Studies. All readers that are interested in Japan, shackled by several stereotypical views to Japan, involved in teaching, etc. will be thrilled with his brilliant insight towards various important issues about Japan.'Akiko Sugawa-Shimada, Associate Professor, Yokohama National University, Japan

    'In this crisp introduction to Japan, students are provided with concepts that will help them make sense of a fascinating and complex society. By including in his scope imperial weddings, student uniforms, patterned etiquette, new religions, and manga icons, McVeigh introduces general readers to the breathtaking richness and diversity of contemporary cultural life.'Laura Miller, Eiichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Endowed Professor of Japanese Studies and Professor of Anthropology, University of Missouri-St. Louis, USA

    'Brian McVeigh distills twenty-five years of research, providing a thorough and fresh approach to viewing Japan through multiple lenses and locations. As much an introduction to classic social-scientific methods as a refreshing case study of Japanese culture and society, this useful book also includes numerous suggestions for further study.'Debra J Occhi, Professor of Anthropology, Miyazaki International College, Japan