Coming Together and Across through Celebration: How Individuals Change Their 'societies'

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Rosa LEE , Department of Advanced Social and International Studies, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Despite its alienating forces, globalisation is noted for providing unprecedented means of mobility and communication to the masses living in post-capitalist societies. Using these instruments, more anonymous individuals are becoming ‘playing selves’ who redefine conventional social and physical boundaries and partake in the remaking of their society by actively recognising and articulating their unique positions in society. Through collective action, they also instigate social changes from the grassroots, propelling studies of social movements to (re)consider how people foster and utilise their ties as social capital to state and advance their objectives. Following this trend, this study scrutinises the emergence of ‘loose’ collective actions based on weak ties and their roles in advanced capitalist societies. For this purpose, it introduces two Japanese grassroots organisations, the Old Tokaido Road Shinagawa House Community-building Association and the East Asia Collaborative Workshop, which engage in festivities and performances to respectively revive an urban community and to achieve reconciliation in East Asia. Although it is difficult to assess their achievements in reference to their objectives, these organisations are nonetheless notable for their ability to function as a node for individuals to become playing selves and to connect with other like-minded actors. From an analysis of the social interactions within these movements, this study demonstrates collective identities sustain and renew their selves by offering an open forum for diverse stakeholders where they could mutually confirm each other’s differences and form weak ties. Through this process, participants not only build networks, but also gain empowerment as they reflect on their selves and project their reflections onto their social realities. In this light, weak organisations may not be suited to initiate social changes, but it could stir individual actors and the society encompassing these actors to review and renew their perceptions of social realities.