'Civil society' in Japanese politics:implications for contemporary political research

Carver, Terrell and Chiba, Shin and Matsumoto, Reiji and Martin, James and Jessop, Bob and Iida, Fumio and Sugita, Atsushi (2000) 'Civil society' in Japanese politics:implications for contemporary political research. European Journal of Political Research, 37 (4). pp. 541-555. ISSN 0304-4130

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This article presents a definitional and historicalsummary of `civil society' as a western concept, andthen traces how it was used in Japanese politicaltheory and practice. `Civil society' discourse becamea familiar term amongst post-war Japanese historiansand social scientists in the period 1945–1970, andthus preceded the recent international proliferationof `civil society' literature in the `west' from the1970s onwards. `Civil society' discourse waspoliticised in practice in Japan in the 1950s and1960s, principally in opposition movements wanting toencourage political participation by ordinarycitizens. While some `civil society' discourse inJapan was based on an idealisation of `western' ideasand practice, it is also the case that theindividualism and democratisation implied in `civilsociety' discourse has been very differently understood in `western' countries and very unevenlyinstituted in their political practice. A simpleEast–West frame makes significant similaritiesbetween Japanese ideas and practice and `western'concepts and politics disappear, and additionallycauses significant differences within the `west'regarding individualism and democratisation to becomeinvisible.

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Journal Article
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European Journal of Political Research
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24 Oct 2008 12:50
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21 Nov 2022 18:29