Historical Sociology of Japanese Capitalism: Uncertainty, Justification, and Multiple Embeddings of Socio-Cultural Institutions

Eiko Ikegami, Department of Sociology,New School for Social Research

RSVP Required by 5PM February 16

As a sociologist who works on the conjunction and conflicts between political, economic and cultural-cognitive networks, Eiko Ikegami has been conducting research on long-term social processes that underlie and perpetuate modern Japanese social"¨relations with a number of different topics. It is from this long-term view point, that Ikegami offers a distinctive angle to articulate the grave difficulties that contemporary Japanese capitalism is facing. She expresses the social significance of the current radical transformation of Japanese capitalism as a historic turning point in redirecting institutions of Japanese trust and justification. For example, she investigates developments in popular consciousness of egalitarian views that clung to the myth that "we all are in the middle strata" and of distinctive gender roles closely linked to the particular style of Japanese capitalism. Ikegami considers these institutional transformations not only as a postwar product, but in a critical way as the result of path dependent developments of institutionalization and deinstitutionalization for more than a century. Using keywords such as uncertainty, networks, trust, and justification, her talk will present a bold synthesis that outlines the long-term process of institutionalization that produces mutually connected socio-cultural-cognitive systems in which the distinctive Japanese style of capitalism has been embedded.

Born and raised in Japan, Eiko Ikegami was a journalist for the Japan Economic Journal (Nikkei or Nihonkeizai Shinbun) before she moved to the US. Ikegami is currently Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at the New School for Social Research in New York. Ikegami's book, The Taming of the Samurai: Honorific Individualism and the Making of Modern Japan (Harvard University Press, 1995), has been translated into Spanish, Korean, and Japanese, and is widely considered the definitive statement on the subject. Bonds of Civility: Aesthetic Networks and the Political Origins of Japanese Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2005), won five book awards in various fields including the Distinguished Contribution Book award in Political Sociology from the American Sociological Association, and the John Hall Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, which cited the work as "the most important book on Japan to have appeared in recent years." In 2003, Ikegami was elected Chair of the Comparative and Historical Sociology Section of the ASA.

Her core research interest has been related to the question: How did a non-Western society such as Japan achieve its own version of modernity without traveling the route taken by Western countries? More recently, Ikegami has been working on three distinct areas of research: a project on trust and uncertainty in Japanese capitalism; the completion of a book project on the Gion Festival, Community, Gender, and Shrine in Kyoto; and, funded by the National Science Foundation, Ikegami currently leads a team of one dozen graduate students in conducting ethnographic research of online communities using 3-D virtual worlds in Japan and in the U.S. Ikegami’s theoretical interests uniquely combine culture and network concepts with the literature of civil society, which has prompted an initiative in the form of a series of workshops in Paris (Sciences Po) and New York, to study the trajectories of civil societies in non-western settings.

Friday, February 18, 2011 | 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Shorenstein APARC