Constructing Civil Society in Japan
Japan's post-World War II "economic miracle" is well-known and much discussed, as is the collapse of the "bubble economy" and the almost decade long economic stagnation of the 1990s. In this collection of essays and articles spanning two decades of intellectual work, Koichi Hasegawa - one of Japan's foremost environmental sociologists - reveals another dimension to the Japanese experience of the late 20th century, a developing civil society. Hasegawa's aim in this collection is manifold, beginning with an outline of the aims, objectives and distinguishing characteristics of environmental sociology. Combining a historical analysis of the rise of this new discipline with an overview of the theoretical frames that define it, Hasegawa argues that environmental sociology challenges the sociological conventions of "disengaged observation" as well as the anthropocentrism inherent to the sociological perspective. At the same time, environmental sociology challenges a powerful environmentalists' perspective, stressing that environmental are not simply scientific or technical problems but are always and especially social problems. Environmentalism therefore needs a sociological perspective and sociology needs an environmental perspective if they are to address the most pressing problems facing human societies - environmental destruction. In the process, Hasegawa indirectly provides a compelling answer to that seemingly interminable question, "What do sociologists actually do about social problems?" Beginning with the foundations of environmental sociology and concluding with considerations of the experiences and future prospects of Japanese civil society, Constructing Civil Society in Japan will appeal to numerous audiences. It is an introductory textbook in environmental sociology as well as a guide to environmental activism. It is a unique introduction to civil society, combining European theories and Japanese case studies to reveal the obstacles and opportunities facing the Japanese citizenry. It critically addresses a range of sociological and political theories regarding citizen's activism and a range of activists' strategies in order to illuminate obstacles and openings on the path ahead.
Publication Date: 9/1/2004