Critical Thoery and Its Development in Post-War Japanese Sociology

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: 303
Oral Presentation
Takeshi DEGUCHI , Department of Sociology, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
In my chapter, I examine the process of the adoption of Critical Theory and its unique development in post-war Japanese sociology from the perspective of theoretical response to capitalist modernization. In Far Eastern Japan, nearly all theories of social sciences have originated overseas since the government opened the country to the West and capitalist modernization began with the Meiji Restoration in 1868. In general, the adoption of social theories and their unique development has natural biases resulting from the social–cultural structure and development peculiar to the adopting country. Japanese society has been characterized by a historical situation never observed in Western countries: too rapid capitalist modernization. In particular, the post-war rehabilitation and economic growth have been so swift that during the process of rapid modernization, pre-modern feudal elements co-existed with the late modern—or sometimes seemingly post-modern—circumstances of mass society. That is, the power of democratization, which was imported from the West with outside pressure after the Second World War, remained at a superficial level of society and did not reach the foundation of the social structure. Hence, Japanese critical sociologists continued to have a sense of criticism against superficial democracy, which did not establish itself firmly in post-war Japan; and it is those critical sociologists and their critical sociology that I examine in my chapter. ‘Critical sociologists’ refers to those in the field of sociology who have developed a critical social theory under the strong influence of German critical theorists such as M. Horkheimer, T. Adorno, E. Fromm, H. Marcuse, J. Habermas and A. Honneth. To explain the uniqueness of this Japanese version of critical sociology, I will introduce it in comparison with Habermas’s reconstructive approach, the concept of ‘dialectical constructivism’ or the ‘dialectical constructive approach’.