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.
'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
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