The Change of the Habitus of the Japanese Since the End of the Second World War

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Akira OHIRA, Waseda University, Japan

This presentation aims to analyze how the habitus of the Japanese has changed since the end of the Second World War through the Americanizing, informalizing and globalizing processes. Americanization has changed the political and economic systems of Japan by giving the Japanese the opportunity to understand how democracy brings them peace and prosperity; informlization has replaced the rigid and feudalistic samurai code (the habitus of the warriors) with more realistic, flexible and business-like lifestyles. And globalization has also taught the Japanese how they can gain more profits by transforming an agriculturally oriented society into an industrially based one. This sort of sociogenetic and psychogenetic change has continued to occur in Japan especially from the 1970s to the 80s. Norbert Elias’s essay entitled ‘Technization and Civilization’ is very useful to show that the Japanese case is a suitable example.

On the other hand, many Japanese people have suffered from a tragic memory of war, so-called war trauma. Even 30 years after the war when the Japanese economy was rapidly growing, older generations were not able to leave behind the crime they thought they had committed as supporters of ultra-nationalism caused by their ‘collective fantasy’ during the war. Meanwhile, younger generations (some were extremely leftist) began to criticize older ones who cooperated with the military government in invading other Asian nations. Thus, younger people wanted to create their own new identity in global society different from the war-time identity of their parents. This historical process of Japan seems somewhat similar to that of Germany. So, Norbert Elias’s book Studies on the Germans will play an important role in this comparative sociological study.