Asian Sociology Research Paper

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Sociology in Japan and China, as in the West, arose out of dramatic economic and political change. Japan’s Meiji Restoration and the end of China’s dynastic rule marked periods of dramatic transformation. Sweeping changes took place in Japan with the Meiji Restoration, postwar occupation reforms, and rapid ascent to world economic superpower. Sociology in China was shaped by the end of dynastic rule, the Communist Revolution, the Cultural Revolution, the dramatic shift to a market economy, and diplomatic opening to the West. The importation of sociology from the West brought different traditions to each country, but sociology is now firmly institutionalized in these societies. New generations of sociologists take active roles in international communication and research collaboration, producing high-quality sociological works.

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Differences in historical legacies, political and economic development, and contact with the West were responsible for distinctive paths of advancement in the two countries. Japanese sociology developed toward more abstract and formal German sociology, with academic production taking the form of individual scholars translating texts from the West for a domestic market. In contrast, Chinese sociology followed an American or British model, was applied in its orientation, and academic production involved collaborative and empirical works with publication including an international audience. Japanese and Chinese sociology are distinguished by the degree of academic as opposed to applied and policy orientations and by the rate of diversification of substantive fields. In China, sociological research is more centrally planned and funded, including publications and establishing international links. In Japan, the discipline has grown and diversified, making it harder to capture its development as a whole.

Initial Development of Sociology

1880s to Early 1940s: Japan

Japanese sociology emerged in the context of explosive efforts to modernize the country with the opening to the West following the Meiji Restoration in 1868. These efforts included selective importation of Western knowledge, technology, and institutions. Sociology blended ideas of traditional authority with modern, democratic principles of representative government. For example, Japanese law was modeled after German and French codes, and Japan’s first constitution, written in 1889, rested on the principle of a divine emperor as an absolute ruler but with a parliament (the Diet). Significant institutional advances took place in education, initially with the establishment of the University of Tokyo (originally, Tokyo Imperial University) in 1877 and later in other public national universities where Western knowledge and technology were promoted.

Sociology was initially translated as gun-gaku (study of collectives) but changed to shakai-gaku (study of society) around 1885. In 1893, Masakazu Toyama (1848–1900) became the first Japanese sociology professor at the University of Tokyo and is generally considered the founder of Japanese sociology. In 1903, the University of Tokyo established the first sociology department. In the first decade of the twentieth century, sociological ideas mixed with academic and political interests and dynamics to create divisions between liberals and conservatives. Liberals looked to Herbert Spencer, J. S. Mill, and Jeremy Bentham on individual rights and freedoms in their push for an elected parliamentary assembly. Conservatives also relied on Spencer’s work to justify the absolute power of the emperor in guiding modernization, needs for war (in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894), the Meiji Constitution (1889), and August Comte’s sociology to justify Japan’s existing social hierarchy (Kawamura 1994:5).

In contrast to the political involvement of sociology, there was also a movement toward a more academic style of sociology. Shotaro Yoneda (1893–1945), the first sociology professor at Kyoto University, introduced a formal sociology by promoting specialized areas (Kawamura 1994:55). He laid the groundwork for European (and later German) sociology in Japan by introducing social theories (of Gabriel Tarde, Émile Durkheim, George Simmel, Edmund Husserl, Hendrich Rickert, and Leopold von Wiese) during the first decade of the twentieth century. Yoneda was succeeded by his students Yasuma Takada, Junichiro Matsumoto, and Masamichi Shinmei, leading to the dominance of German sociology in Japan until World War II (Sasaki 2000:1477–78).

The reform movement for democratic rights and universal suffrage organized by workers, peasants, and intellectuals during the Taisho Democracy era of the 1920s further shaped the development of sociology. However, the rising militarization of Japan and government hostility toward liberal sociology redirected its development. The Great Depression of the 1930s and government oppression brought conservatives to prominence in academia, and sociology moved in a nationalistic direction. Conservative sociologists began criticizing socialism as an enemy of Japanese national polity, and liberal sociologists converted to conservative ideologies that supported the emperor system (Kawamura 1994:6). By the 1930s and 1940s, the focus of sociology shifted to “Japanism,” an ideology built on the emperor system and the family system.

An empirical orientation had emerged in the 1920s, led by Teizo Toda, in family structures and rural sociology. Kunio Yanagita became the most influential twentieth-century scholar of folklore; he emphasized the development of indigenous theories of agricultural systems, kinship lineage, and common people (Kawamura 1994:69). In addition, the Japan Sociological Association was formed in 1924. However, prior to World War II, sociology remained a small venture; sociology departments existed at only a few public and private universities with a limited number of sociologists and sociological research projects.

1890s to 1950s: China

Chinese sociology was similarly born out of the rapid transformation of society at the end of the nineteenth century. The Qing dynasty was imploding from rural poverty, lost wars, colonial incursions, and civil unrest. Sociology came out of the vacuum created from the declining support for the Confucian-based dynastic order. Chinese intellectuals had been questioning the adequacies of the old Confucian order and looked for a new foundation from which to steer China into the twentieth century. At that time, Beijing University (established as Metropolitan University in 1898 and renamed Peking University in 1911) was a central location for the development of Western ideas such as anarchism, monarchism, pragmatism, socialism, Marxism, democratic liberalism, and scientism (King 1978:39).

Yu Fu, the first president of Peking University, translated the work of Herbert Spencer into Chinese in 1897. St. John’s University in Shanghai offered the first sociology course in 1914, and Peking and Tsin Hua Universities followed in 1915 and 1917, respectively. The first sociology department was created at Yanching University (merged with Peking University in 1922) (King 1978:38). Western scholars at private missionary colleges were instrumental in introducing and spreading sociology in the early twentieth century. American missionary colleges and organizations were leading importers of Western sociology to China in the 1920s and 1930s through direct teaching and training of Chinese sociologists with reformist, applied interests emphasizing theory, research, and methods (King 1978:41–42). In contrast to the Japanese style of a single established scholar translating a Western text and working with a group of students, Chinese sociology developed in a different direction by training young scholars in Western sociology and then engaging in collaborative research between domestic and foreign scholars and publication of community studies.

Sociology developed quickly in terms of infrastructure, professional body, and volumes of publication because of collaboration between Chinese and Western scholars. In addition, Chinese were oriented toward translation of their texts for an English-speaking audience (in contrast to Japanese who were oriented toward their domestic market). In the 1930s and 1940s, the sociological infrastructure began to develop. The Chinese Sociological Association was established in 1930. Universities rapidly created sociology departments, and courses as professional identity, and the legitimacy of sociology as an academic discipline firmly took root. By the end of 1930, 11 universities offered sociology curricula. By 1947, 19 universities had full-fledged sociology departments, and there were 143 academic sociologists and 1,500 students taking sociology as a college major (Whyte 2000). Chinese sociology (by Chinese and non-Chinese scholars) flourished with unique applied features combining social anthropology and social work, embarked on large-scale community studies, and produced fine ethnographies of Chinese villages (e.g., Li Ching-tan, Fei Xiao-tong), many of which were published abroad in English (Li et al. 2001:622; Whyte 2000:297–98).2 Sociology was growing faster in China than anywhere else in the world outside North America and Europe (King 1978:39; Whyte 2000). Sociologists contributed to the development of the social policy of the Kuomintang government (1911–1948), even though some leading “leftist” Chinese sociologists caused irritation by their severe criticism of the government.

Sociology took root in China and matured rapidly with its own style through the use of domestic data as the content of sociology courses before 1949. Many of these studies were published abroad. However, after the Communist Revolution in 1949, Chinese sociology was reorganized. Marxism became the guardian of the communist political order and the sole legitimate national ideology, and Soviet-model reforms (which banned sociology) were implemented in higher education institutions. All social sciences were seen with suspicion, particularly sociology. Academic sociology denounced “bourgeois sociology” (Western sociology, in particular Comptean sociology imported from the United States) and accepted Marxist sociology (then called “new sociology”), but all types of sociology were banned in 1952. Ethnography continued to flourish because it was considered separate from sociology. Similarly, demography was established as an independent field in the 1970s. The new communist China rejected sociological contributions to social research and methods, and Mao’s case study methods (proletariat in nature) became the rule. After a brief restoration movement in sociology in the mid-1950s, the discipline was finally silenced, along with political science and law, and it vanished in 1957 (for more details of this period, see Li et al. 2001).

1950s to 1970s: Americanization of Sociology in Japan

Democratic occupation policies provided the context for the institutionalization of sociology at major public universities after World War II. Sweeping changes led by the Allied occupation reforms in the economy, land, and education as well as democratization accelerated the advancement of sociology. Sociology was integrated into the general university educational curriculum, and the Japan Sociological Society (JSS; 1924–present) joined the International Sociological Association in 1950. The central focus of sociology shifted to the study of American sociology and its theoretical and empirical innovations (especially Talcott Parsons) (Lie 1996:63), in contrast to the conservative prewar stance of Japanese sociology, which drew heavily from the formal orientation of German sociology.

Sociology was dominated by those with prewar training, and their research focused on themes of modernization and democratization (Sasaki 2000:1478). The prewar emphasis on ethnographic research led to the development of two major specialized fields (substantive areas or subfields) that became most representative of Japanese sociology: rural sociology and industrial sociology. Rural sociology was established by Tadashi Fukutake (1917–1989), Eitaro Suzuki (1894–1966), and Kizaemon Ariga (1897–1979). Industrial sociology proliferated, with Kunio Odaka (1908–1993) at the University of Tokyo laying the foundation work (Nakao 1998:503). Other notable advances took place in mass communication through the work of Ikutaro Shimizu (1907–), sociology of culture by Rokuro Hidaka (1917–), and French sociology by Suketoshi Tanabe (1894–1962).

The 1950s brought large-scale time-trend national survey projects. The Social Stratification and Social Mobility (SSM) project by the Japanese Sociological Association in collaboration with the International Sociological Association began in 1952, and data collection has continued every 10 years to the present.3 Also, in 1954 the Institute of Statistical Mathematics launched research on the Japanese character by conducting national surveys every 5 years and pioneering the use of identical questions over time to analyze changes in the social attitudes of the Japanese people. This survey became a model for the General Social Survey of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (Sasaki 2000:1479). These two ongoing surveys have become the most wellknown national social surveys in Japan.

1950s to 1978: Remission of Sociology in China

The development of sociology was suspended by the Chinese Communist Party, which perceived sociology incompatible with Marxism-Leninism and Maoism. Mao’s grassroots investigation methods became the sole legitimate research methodology, and sociology was banned for nearly 25 years (1952/1957–1979). No sociology degree was given between 1952 and 1982. However, in the late 1950s, the United States, Japan, and Europe began sociological studies of China and developed elaborate methods to cope with difficulties of learning about China firsthand (Whyte 2000).

1970s to 1990s: Diversification of Sociology in Japan

Japanese sociology was marked by growth, diversification, and internationalization from the 1970s to 1990s. In the context of a booming economy, scholars’ attention moved to issues of the consequences of rapid industrialization, such as inequality, social problems, and the environment.

Sociology became firmly institutionalized, as indicated by the growth in the number of sociologists, sociology programs, and publications. In the 1970s, some 300 sociologists were teaching, but by the 1980s, the number exceeded 1,000. Membership in the Japan Sociological Society increased from 870 in 1957 to 1,945 in 1985, 2,200 in 1990, and 3,034 in 1994. By the late 1980s, 33 out of Japan’s 501 colleges/universities offered doctoral programs in sociology, with 700 graduate students (of which 490 were doctoral students). During 1977–1986, 41 Ph.D.s were awarded in sociology. The number of articles and books published in 1984–1988 exceeded 7,000 and 900, respectively (Sasaki 2000).

Continuing its orientation to American sociology, Japanese sociology experienced diversification of substantive areas, methodology, and theory, as exemplified by the proliferation of specialized sociological associations. New substantive areas that thrived during this period included organization, family, education, social psychology, social pathology, sport, labor, life course, law, and religion. Social surveys and empirical studies flourished in areas including family, rural/urban sociology, and popular culture (Lie 1996:65). Diversity of methodological approaches included subjective methodologies and phenomenological sociology, symbolic interactionism, and ethnomethodology (Sasaki 2000:1479). American influence became even stronger, and the new generation of sociologists increasingly turned to structuralist social theory. The theoretical focus shifted from macro to micro level and to multidimensional paradigms of Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Niklas Luhmann, Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens, and Alfred Schütz.

Diversification of sociology (interests, theoretical orientation, and methodology) led to more specialized sociological associations (Yazawa 2000).

The orientation of Japanese sociology became more international through increasing participation in international conferences and associations. For example, the Japan Sociological Society organized the first conference of Asian sociologists (The Asia Congress of Sociology) in Tokyo in 1973, in collaboration with the International Sociological Association and U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on themes of social development in Asia (Morioka and Yazawa 1993:1547). Japanese leadership continued in successive meetings in 1978, 1981, and 1984. Korea and China hosted the 1987 and 1991 conferences, respectively (Yazawa 2000).

Two issues remained. Access to the original survey data for secondary analysis was foreign despite the scores of statistical studies performed every year on an amazing array of topics by government agencies and private organizations (Matsui 1997; Tanioka and Iwai 2003). These raw data sets were not publicly shared. Research by individuals or teams in collecting and analyzing original data was prized as scholarly work. In addition, with the adoption of Western sociology, empirical analyses were directed to fact-finding ventures, with little testing of theory. Efforts at theorizing from Japanese society remained limited.

1990s to the Present: Globalization of Sociology in Japan

Japanese sociology had become more international and continued to grow, diversify, and professionalize. In the late 1990s, Japan built an American-style graduate school system geared to global competitiveness. A new generation of Japanese sociologists undertook empirical research projects and expanded international research endeavors. For the first time, several universities opened national data archives to scholars for secondary analysis.

The late 1990s saw a clear shift in leadership and education reform by the central government. In this process, a new generation of sociologists has connected Japanese sociology more closely to American and European sociologists. Younger sociologists who were trained abroad with secondary data analyses sought the new direction in sociology. Others promoted the creation of a new environment, cultivating their own contacts and working with specialized sociological associations. (To name a few, such sociologists include Hiroshi Ishida, Noriko Iwai, Kenji Kosaka, Masamichi Sasaki, Yoshimichi Sato, Toshio Yamagishi, Shujiro Yazawa, and Kosaku Yoshino.)

The Japanese higher education system changed dramatically in the beginning of the twenty-first century, including more independent administration of national universities, a reduction in the number of national universities, and the institutionalization and reform of graduate schools. Reforms initiated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) focused on founding new and specialized graduate schools, a move toward an American-style education system that is appropriate for a postindustrial, mature economy. It gave each university more flexibility in university management and independence in creation of unique graduate programs. Competition among universities to survive the adverse market (due to the decline in the number of prospective students) has intensified. In restructuring higher education, MEXT has identified academic research as an integral part of knowledge production and global competitiveness.

Somewhat similar to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States, MEXT has begun priority funding of creative research under the 21st Century Center of Excellence (COE) program. The program attempts to support the formation of centers of excellence in graduate training. Several initiatives in sociology have been selected and funded, including the Center for the Study of Social Stratification and Inequality at Tohoku University and Social Research for the Enhancement of Human WellBeing at Kwansei Gakuin University.

The reform also made it easier to obtain graduate degrees in contrast to the previous system of doctorate training that consumed nearly half of one’s career. Generally speaking, three years of course work (plus a dissertation) are required for a doctoral degree beyond a master’s degree. Before the reform, doctoral candidates became teaching or research assistants first before completing their Ph.D. dissertations. These posts marked the beginning of one’s lifelong tenured career at the university. They continued to work with the senior academic (master) and completed their dissertations at a later date, typically in middle age. This system was similar to the apprenticeship of European higher education systems such as the one in Germany. More recently, however, universities have restructured their Ph.D. programs that are similar to the American system and began awarding doctorate degrees in shorter duration and in larger numbers. Perhaps the most exciting and significant change in Japanese sociology was the development of a publicly accessible social science infrastructure. Prior to the 1990s, a widening gap of research infrastructures existed between Japanese and European/North American sociologies. Statistical studies performed by government agencies and private organizations focused on fact-finding rather than theory-testing in empirical analyses, and these rich data were not shared with academic researchers (Tanioka and Iwai 2003; Smith et al. 2005). This contrasted with accelerated infrastructure building abroad. In Europe, the movement led to the creation of several national data archives that provided an opportunity for international collaboration in the 1960s, and by 1976, Europe established the Council of European Social Science Data Archive (CESSDA). In the United States, the first data archive of public opinion polls opened at the Roper Center in 1946, and by 1962, the ICPSR (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research) was established. The American General Social Survey (GSS) was created in 1972 with NSF funding.

In parallel fashion, the University of Tokyo created in 1996 the Information Center for Social Research on Japan (a unit within the Institute of Social Science) for specifically managing the Social Science Japan Data Archive, which is funded by MEXT.5 Shortly thereafter, with funding from MEXT, a team of sociologists launched the first nationwide General Social Survey (JGSS, parallel to the American GSS) to provide data on attitudes and behavior for secondary analyses by social scientists. The data for JGSS-2000 (Japanese version) was released by ICPSR in February 2004 (also scheduled for release in Cologne), and the English version of data files for JGSS-2000, -2001, and -2002 will become available soon (Iwai 2004). In 2005, MEXT funded the Educational and Social Survey Research Center (ESSRC) at Hyogo Kyoiku University, which is charged with the collection and dissemination of nationwide attitudinal surveys relating to educational issues. EERC is the first research center attached to a university in Japan.

Prior to the 1990s, Japanese sociology thrived in a large domestic market for translations of European and American sociological work (Lie 1996:60; Sasaki 2000:1482). General social theory dominated the most prestigious area of scholarship, involving the interpretation and reinterpretation of classical theories, introduction of contemporary theories, and theoretical syntheses. Mastery of classics was a mark of serious scholarship, and publication of books dominated the market. With a limited peerreview system, the quality of work in journal publications varied, and journal publication remained secondary to book publication. As a result, there were limited opportunities for the exchange of ideas, and intellectual stimulation among sociologists was not eagerly sought out6 (Lie 1996:61; Sasaki 2000:1480–81).

The field of Japanese sociology grew to the second largest national sociology with a membership of over 3,000 and 30 specialization fields (Lie 1996; Sasaki 2000; Yazawa 2000). By 1997, 65 out of 586 colleges/universities offered a master’s degree in sociology, and 47 offered a Ph.D. (Sasaki 2000:1481). (In the United States, there are nearly 120 Ph.D. programs in sociology.) The diversification of sociology in Japan since the mid-1960s paved the way for internationalization in the 1980s and 1990s. It was fueled by the development of social science infrastructure, increasing scope of activities in cross-national collaboration, and international and regional conferences. The diversity of membership and publication in subfields is indicative of the lack of a central or dominant theoretical or methodological orientation, or central figure or focus to Japanese sociology at present (Sasaki 2000; Yazawa 2000). In addition, sociologists with interpretive or phenomenological approaches, mathematical or formal sociology, and quantitative styles of research are more prominent today (Yazawa 2000). Cross-national research collaboration and participation in international conferences continue to grow, especially in the areas of comparative sociology, environmental sociology, culture, family, information and the mass media, mathematical sociology, rational choice, rural sociology, social psychology, and social stratification/social mobility.

The International Journal of Japanese Sociology (1992–), the official publication of the JSS in English, began annual publication. The articles represent diverse topics in more than 20 substantive sociological topics. Another significant change was the increase in the number of international conferences organized by Japanese sociologists. For example, Japan hosted the 30th World Congress of the International Institute of Sociology (IIS) in Kobe in 1991. Masamichi Sasaki served as the president of IIS from 1998 to 2002. The Japan Association for Mathematical Sociology (JAMS) established in 1986 has actively worked with foreign counterparts, developed original models, and positioned itself as a world leader of rational choice theory and social network analyses. JAMS and the Section on Mathematical Sociology of the American Sociological Association organized the first U.S.-Japan joint conferences in 2000 (led by Phillip Bonacich and Yoshimichi Sato), 2002, and 2005 (http://

The Center of Excellence projects support large-scale data collection and are a significant departure from previous data collection practices in Japan. First, Japanese sociology has positioned itself to embrace a global model of social science research by building research infrastructures. Second, there is a clear generational shift in leadership. Third, Japanese sociology has moved beyond U.S.-centered sociology, building regional links in Asia and collaborating with European universities.

1979 to the Present: Robust Revival and Diversification of Chinese Sociology

After Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1977, China set a course of pragmatic changes toward economic reform. For the next two decades, the nation witnessed average annual growth rates of 9%. The revival of sociology took place in 1979, when Deng Xiaoping declared, “We have ignored the study of political science, law, sociology, and world politics for many years. Now we need to restart.” This speech was followed by an appeal from Hu Qiaomu, president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, to re-embark on sociological research. Since then, sociology has been identified as a key scientific field of study for its potential in helping the country move forward. Sociology as a profession has achieved a legitimate status, bent toward policy-relevant studies. Thus, it has received solid government priority and funding in research areas such as economic reform, social development, and social change.

The rehabilitation of sociology began with remarkable speed to the surprise of skeptics (Whyte 2000). It was led by a number of prominent pre-1949 Chinese sociologists such as Fei Xiao-tong. They were charged with reestablishing the discipline and training future sociologists. Their effort was aided by the recruitment of scholars from fields related to sociology such as philosophy. American and Japanese sociologists were invited to lecture. Chinese sociological associations were revived in 1979, and the first sociology department was created in Nankai University in 1981. Within a short time, sociology departments were created in leading universities, including Peking University, Zhongshan University, Renmin University, and Fudan University. As new sociologists were trained, more sociology departments were added throughout the country. The Institute of Sociology was established in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Peking in 1980, along with many provincial and city academies (Whyte 2000:300).

Sociology’s reemergence took place in the context of education reform. In 1977, uniform national examinations were reinstated, and in 1984, over 1.6 million candidates took the test for 430,000 places in more than 900 colleges and universities (U.S. Library of Congress 2003). In 1985, China began to drastically reform the higher education system to meet modernization goals. More universities and colleges were created and allowed to choose their own teaching plans and curricula and to conduct joint research and international exchanges. Universities gained more freedom to allocate funds for their own goals. Student enrollment, the graduate assignment system, student financial assistantships, and the study-abroad system (for students and scholars) also were changed to reflect more closely the personnel needs of modernization.

Sending students and scholars abroad has been an important means of raising educational quality in modern China. A large number of students were sent to the Soviet Union until the late 1950s. Some 30,000 students were sent to 14 countries between 1978 and 1984, and the number of students coming to the United States quickly accelerated after diplomatic normalization between the two countries in 1979. During the 1980s, government control of higher education relaxed as China attempted to model the Yugoslavian and Romanian experiences of melding socialist and capitalist systems.

Government directives facilitated the development and diversity of sociology. China has had a centrally planned economy based on the Stalinist model since it became the People’s Republic of China. It has implemented a series of five-year plans to guide its development (Aoi and Wakabayashi 1993). In these plans, the government articulated national objectives and policies. The sixth five-year plan (1980–1984) identified three major areas for sociological study: social theory and methods, rural and urban studies, and problems relating to population, labor, and family. In the seventh five-year plan (1985–1989), 12 sociological areas were articulated as priorities, including new areas such as rural families, social welfare and assistance, stratification, aging, and lifestyle.

In the 1980s, Chinese sociology focused on largescale surveys and case studies with a strong bent toward applied sociology. “Small town” research by Fei (1984) was the most sustained and coordinated research (Xueguang and Xiaomei 1997). In addition, CASS carried out a 1983 survey of marriage and family with a 1994 follow-up survey and a survey of 100 counties in 1988. In Tianjin in 1988, the municipal government and sociologists at the Tianjian Academy of Social Sciences began a 10-year household survey leading to the investigation of life-course changes. In 1994, Ma, Wang, and Liu edited a volume containing 30 case studies of rural enterprises, examining market transactions in dense social relations. Research on lifestyle (gender, sexuality) also began as a new area of sociology.

The Tiananmen Massacre of 1989 led to criticisms of sociology (and other newly revived social sciences) by conservatives. It was once again denounced (because it teaches Western democratic ideas critical of the socialist regime). The central government exerted control over sociological publications and research projects. Except at Renmin University and Shanghai University, sociology departments were not allowed to enroll students (Aoki and Wakabayashi 1993). However, the discipline remained robust and intact as new stimuli came from different directions, including the end of the Cold War and the diplomatic normalization between China and the United States, which led to a surge in international research collaboration and exchange of scholars (Whyte 2000:301).

Chinese sociologists also began debating China’s unique identity with the appeal for the discipline to become more Chinese. The debate centered on how to use Western ideas and concepts in the study of Chinese society as well as how to innovate theoretical and methodological techniques. By the 1990s, Chinese sociologists sought new approaches by distinguishing two major trajectories between capitalism and communism. This gave rise to a firmer sense of sociological community in which sociological knowledge is to be shared and marked the end of isolation of Chinese sociology from the rest of the world (Whyte 2000). Sociologists began to assume a stronger professional identity as sociologists. Sociology has come to be understood as a scientific discipline with its own methodology and objectivity to address China’s unique problems (Merle 2004).

Greater specialization and professionalization of sociology has raised new questions about the applicability of Western sociology into research of China. In an effort to “indigenize,” Chinese sociologists emphasize the importance of reflective sociology, which scrutinizes the past in understanding present-day China. A team of sociologists at Peking University launched an oral history project to examine social and economic transformation of peasant life over six distinct periods during the past 50 years across six villages in China (Merle 2004). The complex changes in the 1980s and 1990s opened up numerous new research agendas, with a new spurt of activity, publication, and abundant data focusing on the consequences of the Cultural Revolution and its radical policies, impact of the diplomatic opening, the nature of societal transitions, decollectivization of agriculture and peasant life, and comparison between Eastern Europe’s market-oriented reform and that of China. The Institute of Sociology at CASS has hosted a number of conferences in recent years. For example, CASS hosted the 36th World Congress of IIS in Beijing in 2004, with the theme “Social Change in the Age of Globalization.” More than 1,000 sociologists gathered for this major international symposium.

The relationship between government and social science research is still strong. Sociology institutes in the social science academies in China are well funded and function like government think tanks. Scholars enjoy prestige, and their research findings are published in journals and reports and are circulated widely. However, the government now encourages research institutes and researchers to obtain research grants on their own, from international agencies, private foundations, and nongovernmental organizations (Whyte 2000). The Chinese Sociological Society publishes its flagship journal, Chinese Sociological Review. Journal publication is still controlled by the government, though this has been relaxing.


Similarities in the Development of Sociology between Japan and China

As in the West, the emergence of sociology in Japan and China came at a time of momentous political transformation accompanied by economic transformation. During rapid economic development, sociology applied itself to the challenges of these two countries. Major themes of sociological inquiry involved problems of modernization and democratization for Japan and of economic reform and social change for China.

Both countries possess Confucian traditions of hierarchical organization and collective orientation as opposed to the more democratic and individualistic orientation of Western traditions. Yet out of this mismatch of political, economic, and cultural institutional contexts, sociology was imported from the West into Japan and China and took root in their soil of political, economic, and cultural transformation.

Initially neither country experienced sustained democratic political institutionalization that would nurture the free development of sociology. By the 1930s, Japan embarked on militarization and fascist orientation, and China never shook off the feudalism embarked on by communists in the early 1950s. The rise of militarism in Japan shaped the development of a conservative, nationalistic sociology in the 1930s and 1940s. The focus of sociology shifted to a type of “Japanism,” an ideology built on the emperor system and the family system. At the same time, the development of sociology was held back by the Chinese Communist Party, which perceived sociology incompatible with Marxism-Leninism and Maoism.

By the latter part of the twentieth century, sociology in both countries benefited from government involvement in education and developed diversity of specialized areas in addressing issues of these political and economic changes. After World War II, educational reform led by the American occupation established sociology in Japan as part of the liberal arts educational curricula. Sociology was recognized as an independent field of social science and grew rapidly during the economic development of the 1950s and 1960s, heavily influenced by American sociology. In China, after the rise of Deng in the late 1970s, sociology took a sharp turn from a discipline that threatened the communist regime to one of indispensable knowledge for China’s modernization.

Since the 1990s, sociology in Japan and China has become internationalized and more integrated in world sociology, albeit with two distinct trajectories. There has also been more collaboration among sociologists between the two countries in promoting sociology of East Asia, especially in the areas of social stratification, social mobility, and family changes. As the two major non-Western countries, Japan and China can contribute better understanding of the roles of cultural and historical forces to the Euro-American-centered processes of societal organization and transformations.

Differences in the Development of Sociology between Japan and China

Differences in the development of sociology are associated with historical differences in the two countries. Sociology in Japan developed in the context of more or less democratic and capitalist institutions and dramatic economic transformation, whereas in China, sociology has grown in the context of developing economic and political institutions. Although both countries imported sociology from the West, Japan imported European (in particular German) sociology and developed an orientation toward a more abstract, formal, and theoretical sociology. Japanese sociology emphasized the interpretation of abstract, philosophical, and classical works. It took a conservative stance within a small number of universities in the context of the turbulent process of nation building as the only nonWestern industrial and imperial power. Sociology in China began by importing British social anthropology and American sociology with emphases on applied and reformist orientation. A number of foreign sociologists came to China through missionary teaching and were involved in training Chinese sociologists in the early part of the twentieth century.

Japanese sociologists are in a unique position to study new issues of maturing political and economic institutions with a drastic decline in birth rates and unprecedented rate of population aging. Gender, popular culture, and ethnicity have become very important new areas of sociology. More recent sociological inquiry in China includes broad issues relating to the consequences of market reforms and social problems of dislocation, including the issues of inequality, a new middle class, democratization, civil society, migration, and unemployment. Chinese sociologists are in a unique position to study social change and societal transformation, including studies of the Cultural Revolution and its consequences, the transition to a market economy, the social consequences of a hybrid socialist and capitalist economy, and demographic issues of monumental proportions.

Japan developed a more domestically oriented sociology, whereas China’s had a more international orientation. Japanese sociologists have taken the path of more homegrown sociology, gradually internationalizing its scope with further enrichment of quality in a number of specialized fields of sociology. Chinese importation of sociology led to a more empirical and policy-oriented discipline and international collaboration. As a result of a sudden surge in international interchanges between China and the United States, interests in China have more fully integrated to mainstream American sociology. This has led to tighter integration of Chinese sociologists in American sociology and raised global visibility of Chinese sociologists.

Japanese sociological work has developed a philosophical and humanities orientation, whereas Chinese sociology gained a legitimate status as a scientific field bent toward policy-relevant research. Infrastructure and dissemination of sociological research are more centralized and controlled in China. Research institutes function like government think tanks and receive solid government priority and funding in areas of economic reform, social development, and social change.

Future: Glocalization

East Asian sociology confronts the tension between the stubborn facts of empirical sociological enquiry and available theories from the West to help explain those facts. In Japan and China, sociology was introduced at the end of the nineteenth century and brought inspiration and tensions between Occidental culture and Confucian tradition. It posed the challenge of “indigenization.” Development of sociological theories or concepts suited to a particular country has stood as a major challenge. As these countries have indigenized and localized sociology, fundamental questions have arisen about the applicability of Western social scientific concepts and relationships. Given that sociological problems for research emerge in any non-Western country, Western concepts do not necessarily have relevance in different domains of research. Khondker (2004) argued that globalization or “glocalization” should be seen as an interdependent process. The problem of simultaneous globalization of the local and the localization of globality (glocalization) can be expressed as the twin processes of macrolocalization and microglobalization. acrolocalization involves expanding the boundaries of locality as well as making some local ideas, practices, and institutions more global.

Both countries are well positioned to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers in building a better understanding of East Asia and offering insights to world sociology. The ascent of sociologies in East Asia provides opportunities for better articulation of the region’s dynamic social transformation. It is always possible to be carried away with “methodological nationalism,” a position that says each country or society should be examined in its own context through the devices of its own homegrown methodology. However, such a position would lead to intellectual closure of dialogue and understanding between societies. In the globalized world, such discourses have limited value. Yet it is important to take seriously the local context and variables and not to fall into the trap of blind application of Western ideas and concepts.

Lessons from East Asia include the demise of modernization theory and questioning of the assumptions of autonomous organizations in Anglo-American organizational sociology (Granovetter 1994). The rise of the Japanese economy in the 1960s and 1970s was a key element in the questioning of modernization theory. Here was an economy that did not follow the Anglo-American model of development but instead rode the logic of the “developmental state” to become the second largest economy in the world. The developmental state has provided a model of development adopted by several “Asian Tigers.” Further, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, organizational sociologists increasingly recognized the theoretical importance and practical effectiveness of groups of organizations leading to the development of new approaches. Interest was sparked by the worldwide competitive successes of East Asian firms that rely extensively on network forms of organization (Gerlach 1992). The restructuring of the economies of China and the former Soviet republics and the failures of neoclassical economic theory to inspire policies to generate market economies also created interest in new approaches.

We may end with a set of globally valid concepts or concepts of limited application that help us examine processes of social transformation that are inextricably connected with global transformation. Thus, Japan and China need integration of theories with data, specification of causal mechanisms, and empirical verification to advance sociological knowledge. Such efforts will transcend sociologies of context-specific research to contextsensitive sociologies that have more general applicability. It is in this context that Robertson (1992) conceptualized globalization in the twentieth century as “the interpenetration of the universalization of particularization and the particularization of universalism” (p. 100).


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