Leisure Activities and Civic Engagement in Japan

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Tomohiko ASANO , Education, Tokyo Gakugei University, Koganei, Japan
The research question in this presentation is:

RQ1: Is there a positive relationship among Japanese youth between being a participant in a leisure group activity and civic engagement?

RQ2: What conditions affect that relationship?

 In this presentation, the focus is on the function of groups for leisure activities.

 Robert Putnam argued that in societies where people participate in various voluntary associations, including those for leisure activities, they are also active in social, political or civic activities. That is because, according to Putnam, interaction between people with different backgrounds in these associations develops a general trust.

 Since Putnam proposed his thesis about voluntary associations and civic engagement, a lot of researchers have tried to examine it. Some of them could find a positive relationship between membership in such associations and civic engagement, others either could find no connection or a very weak connection. What about Japanese youth? That is the question in this presentation.

 It is particularly interesting because, although Japan has been known as a politically inactive society since the end of the 1960s, after the big earthquake and the accident in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Powerplant in 2011, many people began to take to the streets and organize various forms of demonstrations ranging from the traditional to newer types like musical parades.

 The dataset in this study was collected online. The respondents are around 2000 contracted monitors for a research company. They all live in Tokyo. Their ages range from 20 to 59. The questionnaire is designed to examine the relationship between leisure activities and civic engagement in a broad sense, with some variables that are controlled for.

 To summarize the results, participants in leisure group activities are more likely to participate in civic engagement. I will also show what conditions affect the relationship between these two variables.