Family As an Elementary Unit of the Nation-State: Crisis of Democracy and Founders of Sociology in 1930s Japan

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Yukichi HONJI, Univerity of Tokyo, Japan
Nationalism, traditionally regarded as a necessary factor for democracy, can also be a dangerous factor, as shown in the historical experience of the 1930s. How ought we deal with nationalistic emotion? How can we reconcile democracy and nationalistic emotion? The author attempts to tackle this problem from the perspective of non-Western society. This presentation focuses especially on TODA Teizo (1887–1955), one of the founders of Japanese Family sociology and his work in the 1930s.

In 1930s, the democracy of Japan was in crisis. The conservative government and the army emphasized the significance of Japanese traditional nationality (“Koku-tai”) and took advantage of people’s nationalistic feelings. Many social scientists were forced to cooperate with them. However, simultaneously, some sociologists attempted to reconcile democracy and Japanese traditional nationality.

One of the most important topics among them was Japanese family (“Ka-zoku” or “Ie”). In Japan, family was regarded as an elementary unit of political society for a long time. Confucianism, a traditional moral philosophy in Japan, regarded family as the most important unit of political society. Japanese intellectuals from the 1930s were also interested in the political roles of family.

For example, TODA Teizo was interested in family as the social basement of nationalism. TODA studied abroad and learned sophisticated methods of social statistics at that time, and historians evaluate his sociology for its empirical method. However, TODA attempted to investigate the importance of Japanese family from the political perspective, against simultaneous, non-rationalistic interpretations of Japanese government. The author analyses TODA’s unique understanding of nationalism and contributes to this session from a non-Western perspective.