Beyond Shame and Guilt Culture to Globalised Solidarity: Reappraising Keiichi Sakuta's Sociology of Values As a Galapagosized Sociology

Monday, July 14, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
Takeshi DEGUCHI , Department of Sociology, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Keiichi Sakuta (1922) is Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University and one of the most influential sociologists in post-war Japan. In my presentation, I reconstruct the sociology of values that he developed in the 1960s and reappraise it as an innovative theory of solidarity in the age of globalisation.

To reappraise Sakuta’s sociology, I introduce the methodological concept of galapagosisation. This term originated from the Galapagos Islands, which is inhabited by rare and endemic species of fauna and flora that have undergone a unique process of evolution due to their separation from the mainland. Similarly, Japanese sociology has been protected by a strong culture and language barrier, consequently developing unique social theories. Using this term, I clarify the characteristic features of Sakuta’s sociology of values.

Sakuta adopts western sociological and anthropological theories and applies them to an analysis of post-war Japanese society. However, he never accepts western theories uncritically, always revising them to fit the characteristic structure of Japanese society. Particularly, he reconsiders the “shame culture” that Ruth Benedict introduced in her famous writing, The chrysanthemum and the sword, to characterize Japanese culture. In addition, Sakuta discusses another feeling called shuchi (embarrassment), which is positioned between shame and guilt. According to Sakuta, people feel shuchi(embarrassed) when they are alienated from both reference group (state) and membership group (intermediate group) and lose their organisational support. As a result, these people seek solidarity that is not based on strong organisation.

Although Sakuta developed his inquiry into shuchi in line with post-war Japanese modernisation and rehabilitation, in my presentation I reappraise his sociology as an innovative theory of solidarity in the age of globalisation.