Discourse of Justice in Japanese Press Conference of Apology

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Satoshi KUNIMOTO, Hitotsubashi University, Japan
Nowadays, if you cause a political or scientific frauds scandal, you will be demanded a press conference for apology by mass media. One of the most well-known examples in Japan, is stem-cell (STAP cell) scandal. Haruko Obokata, a then postdoctoral stem-cell researcher, was accused of fabricating data and canceled her paper in Nature. She had a press conference in 2014, she apologized to civil peoples in front of the press corps.

From the perspective of the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse(SKAD), apology is a constructed discourse influenced by justice-related social knowledge. SKAD is a new approach to discourse, which was founded by Reiner Keller, who integrated Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s sociology of knowledge with Michel Foucault’s discourse analysis. Keller identifies discourses as regulated and structured practices of sign usage, and theorizes that discourse freeze meanings, fix them in time, and institutionalize a binding context of meaning, value and actions/agency within social collectives.

Based on SKAD, I take up two press conferences of apology including STAP cell scandal and apologies in politics. I analyze rhetoric of apology and its interaction with the audience. For example, Obokata’s explanation at the press conference included her own interpretation as to why she must apologize or what she should say. Also, journalist’s questions included their interpretation as to why they demanded apologies, what explanation they could accept. Her apology and their utterance reveals how to constitute the dominant knowledge about justice and what features of symbolic order are at the conference. I will then compare this result with political case, which gives an account of symbolic differences between heterogeneous realms.

I conclude that SKAD has advantages in comprehending what social representation is and how we can examine it. This approach enables us to focus on current ideas and media representation.