Diversity in Leisure and Leisure Research for Social Justice in Japan: Seeking International Conversations

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: F206
Oral Presentation
Shintaro KONO , University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Although Japanese leisure research literature has grown over the past four decades, it has not been well recognized at the global level largely because of the language barrier. Given the observations that local languages and leisure-like phenomena are closely intertwined with each other particularly in non-Western contexts (Fox & Klaiber, 2006; Iwasaki, Nishino, Onda, & Bowling, 2007), the acknowledgement of the existing Japanese leisure literature appears necessary to initiate constructive conversations on leisure and leisure research in Japan among international researchers. Therefore, a critical review of literature on leisure in Japan written by Japanese researchers in Japanese language was conduced. Four major challenges were subsequently identified: leisure research as historical description, the weak linkage between empirical and theoretical research, the persistent influence of a work-leisure binary perspective, and the ambiguity of the relevance of leisure research to contemporary social issues. To tackle these challenges, I propose that diversity and social justice perspectives (Parry, Johnson, & Stewart, 2013) can facilitate researchers’ conceptualizing leisure as active and multi-faced phenomena reflecting social diversity, enhancing the linkage between empirical and theoretical aspects of research, increasing self-reflexivity, and proactively addressing social inequalities and social discourses. Rather than simply importing Western perspectives, this paper argues for scholarly analysis cognizant of Japanese history, culture, and contemporary social issues, particularly family issues. I argue that a culturally-adapted communitarian model of diversity perspective on contemporary Japanese family settings will open space for a just research of diverse family issues, including the rapid rise of one-/two-person households and the so-called “invisible family” that do not necessarily fit the conventional idea of Japanese nuclear family. This study examines specifically gender and age issues in the contexts of such postmodern family configurations. Given the effects of globalizations on all nations, further international conversations are necessary to advance our knowledge on the subject.