348.2 The Japanese kuuki theory: As applied to reality construction, problem resolution, and social change

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 2:50 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Youichi ITO , Graduate School of Global Communication and Language, Akita International University, Akita City, Japan
     The great earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan in March 2011 and the Fukushima Atomic Power Plant disaster have served to reacquaint the Japanese with the word "kuuki" and what that entails. Some linguistic equivalents of kuuki are words such as "air", "atmosphere", "climate", "environment" and "circumstance". These words originally referred to physical phenomena. They, however, can also be applied to human relations, reality construction, problem resolution, and social change.

      Social or political problems that threaten an established social or political system tend to create kuuki at the macro level that is peculiar to each situation. It exerts social pressure and contributes to problem resolution. Manipulation of kuuki by a talented leader can bring about various social changes.

     Western intellectuals have gradually accepted the idea of kuuki, and the word kuuki has been included in the fifth edition of the Dictionary of Media & Communication Studies (Watson & Hills, 2000) as an independent entry and "Japanese kuuki theory" has been included in the Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (Littlejohn & Foss, 2009).

     So far, most of the studies on kuuki have been done in the areas of interpersonal and political communications. However, situation creates (through the “definition of the situation”) its own kuuki (the “indexical” process) and kuuki affects the development or change of the situation (the “reflexive” process).  This particular study is an attempt to relate the Japanese kuuki theory to modern sociological concepts and theories such as indexicality, reflexivity, reality construction, problem resolution, and social change.