The Pragmatic Social Theory of Sign in Shunsuke Tsurumi

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
Masaya TERADA , Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
While most critics may agree in applauding Shunsuke Tsurumi (1922- ) as one of the most influential intellectuals of post-war Japan, no one has recognized him as an eminent sociologist. The aim of this presentation is to show some sociological implications of his thought and methodology. His works should be categorized as sociology of culture and cultural studies. Shuneuke  Tsurumi's interest is in the life of ordinary people and in "pragmatism in Japan". He focused on a lot of cultural things, especially writing practices of elementary school children (TSUZURIKATA), comics and KARUTA (a Japanese alphabet card game). His notions on the so-called "disinterestedness of mass" aim not only to find the roots of the resistance to the government and bureaucrats, but also to criticize the conventional, scientific, or professional intellectuals and sociologists. Sociology can't read and find the potential hidden behind the unwitten words and thoughts of ordinary people, people who express themselves through work, games, talking, rhymes and poems, and art. He named such practices as "marginal art"(Tsurumi [1960]1991). The influence of these implications are widespread in contemporary Japan, but sociologists such as Keiichi Sakuta (1922- ) and Shun Inoue (1938- ) are the first to share and ackowledge the methodology and importance of Tsurumi's work.

   In my presentation, I'll reconstruct Tsurumi's practices and works into " the Pragmatic Social Theory of Sign" through the reconsideration of his studies regarding the development of pragmatism in the US and Japan and his analysis of Japanese popular culture.