Dynamism Among Japanese Railway Fans: Transition of Taste in the Dimension of Hobby

Friday, July 18, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Masayuki SHIOYA , Department of Sociology, University of Tokyo, Japan
In this paper, I intend to examine “shumi” (Japanese word for “hobby”) in contemporary Japan, revealing its mechanism and dynamism. "Shumi" is composed of three aspects: "omomuki", taste and hobby. "Omomuki" is a Japanese word for a concept of aesthetics in the nature. Taste is a concept of value judgment. Hobby is a concept of enjoyable activities. In sociology, taste and hobby have been researched, so far depicting how the concept of taste has been regulating the concept of hobby in a class society. However, it is necessary to study this matter from the perspective of hobby. Railway fans have been chosen to conduct the survey for the purpose of this study. This is because they participate in activities that are rich in variety, as well as complexity. According to some surveys, there are around 20,000 serious railway fans and roughly from 1.5 to 2 million casual fans. A distinguished characteristic is that although the age distribution is widely covered from under 10 to over 90, at least 80% of them are males. Also, based on my field research related to railways, conducted from July 2009 to October 2012, railway fans have been found to enjoy various kinds of activities, which are not limited to competitions, such as “Agon” that Caillois refers to. Focusing on Bourdieu’s theory of “champ”, or “distinction”, I examine the new framework to analyze the conceptual interaction between taste and hobby. Specifically, I introduce “games” as the sub-concept of hobby, revealing that each fan transitions between values to values of different realms within the dimension of hobby. Thus, I aim to show the possibility that interaction taste and hobby takes place in a non-class society.